The Retail E-Commerce Challenge


I’ve written before about the challenge of bringing a bricks and mortar sales operation online. Well it seems those in the know in the e-tail sector are all too aware of the relative poor level of sales being generated online for some of the well known high street retailers.

Speaking recently to an e-tail Director, it became apparant at some of the internal issues faced by traditional retailers, including a huge misunderstanding of online trading. It is not enough to use a successful store model online. Why would you try and cash in on those £4.99 value transactions online which work so well in your stores to drive footfall and sales, when the online delivery charge is £5? Am I prepared to pay £5 for convenience? Perhaps, but the online commercial model, whilst sharing the same business foundation as the high street stores, requires a differing layer of development.

In today’s world of high-speed internet, choice and convenience, it can hurt your business considerably by not playing the online game seriously. Consider it a new branch of your business as opposed to a new sales channel… one that needs to be thought out for its business proposition, product placement, differentiation and marketability amongst other things.

The good to come out of the challenges faced by a recession and reduction in footfall for retailers is to find cheaper routes to market and market penetration, leading retailers to give online commerce the commitment and investment required to leverage lower cost sales and marketing to those already online. This leads me onto the issue of customer insight, far too big a discussion area for this post, but one which must be at the centre of the online drive.

On a final note, the travel sector is in many opinions years ahead of most other sectors. Perhaps retailers in particular have lay in wait too long with the comfort of their traditional sales channels negating any need to change. Now’s the time to review your business model.

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