Selling online is much more technical and difficult to understand than traditional High Street retailing.
The catchment area for ecommerce is much bigger than the store and the online customer could be from a very different background.
The customer could even be in a different country, using different currency and speaking a different language.
A traditional retailer:
- Pays for effective traffic (pays rent in a desirable shopping area);
- Has a ‘home page’ (a window display);
- Needs repeat custom to thrive.
Ecommerce businesses need to optimise the same three components. But the ways in which they can attract customers is very diverse and the variables can sometimes be hard to predict.
The omnichannel approach
As the numbers of customers choosing to do their shopping online increases, there is much more competition between businesses. The retailer has to offer a seamless shopping experience for the customer in every way.
The best way to do this is to adopt an omnichannel approach that:
- Anticipates your customers’ needs at every stage of the buying process, and
- Incorporates both digital and physical ways to satisfy your customer’s needs.
Making the move to omnichannel retailing
Over the past decade or so we have seen High Street giants such as HMV and Woolworths crumble as they fail to embrace digital methods to sell and to engage with their customers.
Transitioning to omnichannel retailing need not be daunting. Many businesses have found that the increasing focus on ecommerce has allowed them to capitalise on markets they would otherwise have been unable to reach.
Many have also experienced increasing profitability due to the cheaper overheads associated with an ecommerce store.
Inspiring examples of omnichannel success
Here are three examples of High Street stores that are making the most of digital opportunities.
John Lewis — making the most of Click and Collect
John Lewis realised that, for many people, home delivery wasn’t making their life any easier as delivery times were generally restricted to when they were at work.
John Lewis found that most customers found its Click and Collect service more convenient as it allowed them to pick up their shopping at a time that was suitable for them.
Over Christmas 2014, 56% of online shoppers opted for the Click and Collect service — out-performing home delivery for the first time.
Topshop — making the most of engagement opportunities
Creating engaging content is one of the biggest challenges faced by retailers. But it is worth the effort as it can bring with it a highly loyal and motivated customer base.
Topshop’s magazine is a great example of appealing content created by a High Street retailer.
They also cater for different types of consumer, offering a print version in store and an online version — thus making sure that they cover all bases and increase the opportunity to sell.
Argos — making the most of digital stores
As a way of bridging the gap between online ordering and a physical store, Argos opened a range of digital stores to encourage more people to shop online.
Argos gives customers the option of using self-service iPads to browse products and order stock, or to connect to their free in-store Wi-Fi and use their own mobile devices.
More than 40% of Argos’ sales are made via digital channels, with 16% of total sales made on mobile devices.
The transition from bricks and mortar to omnichannel may seem daunting but fundamentally you need to integrate the two sides as much as possible.
Give your customers a chance to ease in to the change and offer them flexible buying options.