If you have already started down the path of blending your bricks and mortar retail stores with an online retail presence or have even an ecommerce platform, congratulations and stop reading now…you have other challenges to face and you can find out more here or here.
The rest of this article is for you 65% of remaining retailers that are yet to embrace online as a complementary marketing channel…yes, that’s right…online is not the evil pirate you might think, stealing your customers and running away with your rent money.
In fact, although the phrase “recent research has uncovered” always makes us cautious, according to a survey by Econsultancy of 1,000 consumers in the UK and the same number in the USA, 81% of consumers regularly use the internet to research purchases and then proceed to buy from a local store. Not such a bad thing then is it?
And then typically we hear retailers respond “Well, they are checking prices and then they expect us to match or beat online-only stores!” and the answer is…yes. And when all things are equal, price becomes the prime driver – but all things are not equal; as an established retailer with a store, you are more “real” and trustworthy, you have a more tangible reputation and you have a clearer track record, you are more convenient, you also are more “now” as you can immediately satisfy their need…and, hopefully, you provide awesome customer service, right there in front of the customer.
And now here is a big secret – online-only retailers do not have the huge advantages that you think they have. They have their own challenges to deal with…
So, time to stop being paranoid and wringing your hands in terror – you have some huge advantages over them…
So, it’s time to play dirty and go out and take on the online-only retailers on head-to-head…go out and buy a website – they are not expensive and some are as little as $50.00 a month, all pre-built and set up ready to list your products. We recommend Bigcommerce for most small to medium businesses as a starting point – it is highly Search Engine-friendly, very easy to use, there are lots of design templates to choose from and even their online payment processing is ready to roll and it starts at about $50.00 per month…you can literally set up a store in one Sunday afternoon. You just need to do it.
Now, just for a fleeting moment spare a thought for the poor online retailer – can they reverse the situation and go out and set up a retail store in one Sunday afternoon for $50.00 a month?
We know it isn’t quite as simple as the scenario we have just outlined but we hope that you have a more balanced view of the genuine advantages that you have as a traditional retailer now embracing the online retail space.
Once you commence on this complementary path, there are a few things you will need a hand with. Just as when you kicked off your first retail outlet, there was a learning curve, so there is on the web side of things. One of those things is Search Engine Optimisation or SEO – and if you take the time to read our website end to end, you will find just about all you need to know. We suggest you start with our How SEO Works page and then review this page on How DO Search Engines Work.
Very soon, what we currently in-house have named “Blended Retail” will become the norm…the retail experience will become a combined online and bricks and mortar experience, taking the best of both worlds and delivering customers what they want – great products, great prices, great service and an awesome shopping experience. Watch this space.
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