Is Online Really Killing Bricks & Mortar Retail?
The state of retail and the impact of the online environment is a topic gaining growing coverage and public debate.
Recent times have obviously seen the Global Financial Crisis hit pockets hard and the residual drag has hurt consumer spending and confidence.
Throw in the continued rise of social media, the spectacular launch of group-buying sites and the uptake of online stores providing cheaper products, and it's easy to understand the ire directed towards the online environment.
The fact is we all run a value equation in our heads..It's cheaper here? But they will give me better advice over there? So on and so on.
So the only thing that the online environment has done to retail is, it has expanded the consumer's value equation. The task now for the Brick and Mortar retailer is to adjust accordingly.
Of course you can aim to match the online retailers on price but it holds tremendous dangers to long-term business stability.
Taking your customer service to another level would be a logical choice and this encompasses a number of varying strategies.
- Improving the shopping experience
What a great way of winning one up on the online shopping experience. Make it fun and run competitions. Provide a level of service you can't get online, perhaps invite personal stylists if you're a fashion retailer.
- Engaging with your customers online
Producing content online for your customers is another form of customer service; it should be seen no different than answering a shopper's questions in-store. The same view should be taken when listening and engaging with your customers via social media.
- Improving the convenience equation
Besides from cost, the convenience of online shopping is often the key determinant in the value equation. So make it easier for the customer to show with you. Trial extended trading hours whether regularly or special events, perhaps delivery is an option to make it easy for the customer to get to your Brick and Mortar shop.
It’s amazing how few traditional retailers still do not even have a website, Facebook page and/or search engine presence. These strategies are just another customer service element and will directly impact on your consumer's own value equation.