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Why Guernsey retailers should adopt multi-channel retailing, and soon…0

There's no denying that consumer migration from the high street to the web browser has been significant, a trend that is, for the most part irreversible. 

Consumer habits and expectations have changed significantly across the UK and CI, not just as a result of technology and innovation in digital retail but also because modern life affords little time for traditional 'retail therapy.'

Those two facts alone highlight the importance of being part of the customer consideration process as early as possible, and offering access and increased convenience through one's online services.

Add to this the ever-increasing use of mobile for search, store locators, and payments, and there is an obvious need for traditional retail businesses to think about how to best join up online and offline channels.

Let's begin with the perceived problem: 

"The web is killing our business"

This is a comment made regularly by local retailers when describing the impact that online shopping has had on their business.   

High rental and staffing costs, in addition to the expense of shipping stock to the island are highlighted as inhibitors to their ability to compete on price and / or convenience.

However I'd suggest that rather than seeing online competition as a negative, retailers should view the potential of online sales as an opportunity.

The New Convenience Store

Let's focus on a key driver of business to the online retailer, convenience.

For an ever-increasing selection of products and services, using your web browser and buying online is the easiest method of acquiring what you need. You can purchase what you want, when you want it, from home, the office or on the move.

While this is often the cheapest route too; you don't need to do a multi-thousand pound survey to discover that Channel Island folk are intrinsically patriotic and wherever possible prefer to buy locally even if it does mean paying slightly more. 

Local web stores, for local people

Focus on how your customers benefit by purchasing from a local retailer vs your non-local, online competitors such as:

  • The ability to physically browse products in store
  • Provide in store sales expertise
  • Next day delivery
  • Physical installation / training (Where applicable)
  • In store collection
  • The benefit to the local community

So why not also offer your stock inventory online? By allowing people to view your goods via their browser and in store and order when and wherever they want, you're offering the kind of convenience that is currently driving people away from the high street into the hands of e-tailers.

Using a multi-channel retail approach means you can also expand your inventory by offering both in-stock and available-to-order items to your customers, again, improving the convenience experienced when shopping with you.

Getting online is easier than ever

Offering your products and services online is increasingly accessible. There are a number of mature, well-thought-through online software platforms that make it quick and easy to set up and promote an online store.

Shopify (www.shopify.com) is one such platform and provides a cost-effective solution for many retail businesses looking to 'dip-a-toe' in online retailing.  What's more, Shopify's own Point of Sale system (www.shopify.com/pos) offers a simple, cross-channel solution for small businesses looking to sell both online and offline, meaning you only have to manage one stock inventory.

Blix is a registered Shopify Partner and has developed a number of online stores for businesses in the Channel Islands and further afield.

Having an attractive and useable website is a necessary starting place for any progress in the digital space. Innovation is then required to make the content and digital services offered by your business appealing to customers.

Many opportunities come to mind, that are relevant to both online and in-store:

  • Digital vouchers and gift certificates
  • Reserve and collect services
  • Product reviews, also made digitally available in-store
  • In-store WIFI
  • In-store tablets, e.g. for browsing product collections with the speed and convenience we are accustomed to online
  • Daily deals available via email/mobile
  • Mobile payments 

How we can help

Blix have created a number of online stores and associated marketing strategies for a range of businesses.

From large scale, custom developed e-commerce websites for businesses selling globally, to small, locally focused online stores using 'off-the-shelf' platforms such as Shopify we are aware of the unique challenges & opportunities selling online brings.

If you would like to discuss how your business can adopt a multi-channel retail strategy please don't hesitate to contact Dominic on dom@blix.co or 01481 706740.

 

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