There are a number of misunderstandings about the impact of ecommerce on your bricks-and-mortar, specialty retail store. It is easy to get swept along in all of the hype about online retailing but it is important to keep things in perspective by looking at the facts.
Ecommerce is growing - TRUE
Worldwide e-commerce continues to grow at a faster rate than total retail sales. In the global market, online’s share of all retailing is 16% and will increase by an average of 6.6% per year to reach 20% of all retail by 2027. 1
NZ e-commerce makes up 10% of retailing and will grow to 14% by 2027. 2
The top 4 ecommerce sites in the New Zealand market are countdown.co.nz, apple.com, chemistwarehouse.co.nz, and farmers.co.nz. 3
Your business’s website is important - TRUE
A whopping 62% of consumers do some research online before shopping. 4
If your customer Googles you or your products before they shop, it is really important that they find your website, that it is professional and up-to-date, and that it is easily navigated so that they are able to find the information they were looking for.
Everyone uses their mobile phone to look things up – and if they don’t find your website – they most certainly will be looking at your competitors!
You wouldn’t allow your business’s signage, exterior image or Shopping bags to be incorrect, out-of-date or missing your professional name and branding. But if you don’t have a website with your location, contact details, opening hours, services and products, all clearly displayed and ranking highly in Google – you will be missing out on a significant portion of your customer’s attention.
Bricks-and-mortar retailing is dying - FALSE
Even though total online selling is forecast to increase – it has to be kept in perspective. If in the next decade ecommerce in NZ increases towards a 20% share of total retailing, that still means that 80% of customers prefer shopping in physical stores.
Online selling is easy and profitable – FALSE
Online retailing is a specialised business with a significant costs and complexity. Just ask The Warehouse Group – whose TheMarket.com shopping marketplace site formed in 2019 continues to lose tens of millions of dollars per year. 5
Just like the instore customer experience at your retail counter – the fulfillment process to complete an online sale has to be smooth and reliable. Don’t underestimate the effort required to exceed customers’ expectations.
You need to list all of your products online - FALSE
Unless you are the “mega-store” in your category, don’t be fooled into thinking that listing all of your products online is a good idea. Just like the retail shelves in your shop need to be well-structured with a carefully curated range of products – the same rule will help your ecommerce.
Customers visiting your online store need to be able to navigate through a well-presented, up-to-date and logical listing of the products they are looking for, and if their browsing or searching experience is not up to scratch they can easily click away to search someone else’s website.
Here’s my advice for your website:
1. Get found online – with a modern, professional website that works best on mobile phones.
2. Enable one-click simplicity - for customers to contact you via phone, email or, better still, by getting directions to your store.
3. Make it easy - for customers to see your leading products and services, and to request support or make contact online.
4. Keep it simple – your website product listings must make it easy for customers to check that you have what they are looking for.
Bricks and Clicks
The best way to think of your website is that it is a modern, easy to use “shop window” that markets your store to local customers and encourages them to come instore. The strategic objective behind this bricks-and-clicks model should be to reinforce your point of difference as the local, convenient, full-service retail expert in your community.