Online shopping is an easy whipping boy for frustrated bricks and mortar retailers experiencing a slump in demand.
But why does there need to be this demarcation between online and traditional retailers? Surely bricks and mortar retailers have an online presence too, right? Sorry, wrong!
Many traditional retailers continue to ignore online
It’s astounding how many retailers haven’t taken advantage of online shopping or are only now coming around to its potential. Case in point: why would Target only put uniforms and a few baby clothes on its online shopping portal – do the company’s decision makers really think this whole internet thing is just a passing phase?
It’s especially peculiar when you consider that a number of large retailers spent years petitioning for extended trading hours. The internet is available 24/7 – no need to worry about closing times or penalty rates there.
And how about using it to move discounted stock? Sale items can be offered across the country, not just in one geographic location.
Rethinking the offline/online retail division
Why not bring online and offline together and have online shopping portals in retail outlets?
A few years ago I was looking for a product out of a Kmart catalogue. I went into my local store and discovered they didn’t have the product available. They may have it at another store. Would I like to phone them and check?
I was directed to a phone at the front enquiry counter. It took ages to get a response and find the right section. The third person I spoke with went and physically checked that the item was still available. Yes, it was. Did I want to put it on hold for a day?
If they had a computer terminal where I could have checked availability, read the specifications for the product and then placed my order, they would have had a happy customer. But they didn’t. In the end I thought it was all too hard and went elsewhere.
Retailers, especially small retailers, could consider turning their outlets into display and distribution centres. They have the stock and, if less people are coming in, they have the staff as well to fulfil online orders.
Get a stack of shipping materials and a kick-ass online store and you have more ways to sell the same products. People don’t need to enter your store for you to make additional sales. What’s not to like about that?
Jill Brennan runs Harbren Advertising. Harbren helps companies get more customers through online advertising so management can spend more time running the business and less time worrying about where the next lead or sale will come from.