The world is digital – and for many retailers it’s a matter of sink or swim. Either join the digital revolution or lose out to those that do. It does not mean that you have to build an ecommerce website to still run a profitable business, but it does mean taking advantage of the technology on offer to at least keep up with the opposition, if not stay one step ahead.
For many people, shopping is a tactile activity, they want to touch and feel the goods before buying, and of course if it’s clothes, they probably want to try it on. Do you know how many people return shoes that they’ve bought online because they didn’t fit? Some things cannot be left to digital.
Having said that, the entire shopping experience has changed. Technology has changed the way retailers interact with their consumers and the way that customers shop.
Let’s investigate how technology has changed the retail experience.
Consumers pre-check prices online
Most shoppers will check out prices of their desired items online before going instore. This means that more often than not, once they’ve walked through your retail store door, they have already committed in one way or another. This technically makes it easier to close the deal, but that also depends on your sales personnel.
E-commerce complements bricks and mortar
Many retail stores now have an ecommerce component on their website. This is not there to replace their through-the-door sales but to enhance their overall revenue by targeting a new audience and providing an added service to regular customers. The large retail stores are seeing a vast increase in their overall revenue as their online sales grow and they attract new markets.
Online-only stores a game changer
Online-only stores like Amazon and local leaders Takealot, are changing the way we shop and the prices we pay. By eliminating the middleman and the expense of running a retail store, they are able to offer top brands at reduced rates. What’s more, they deliver, and will pick up and exchange your goods or refund your money if you are unhappy. It’s hard to beat that, especially if you hate shopping.
Smartphone shopping – more than 40% of online sales made via mobile phone
Smartphone shopping is growing at an exponential rate, allowing people to make shopping decisions on the run. Shoppers are also seeking out retailers who are close to their current location, for those impulse moments when they realise they need or want something. Instant gratification is what’s it’s all about. Those retail stores that aren’t geared for this and aren’t easy to find via your smartphone will lose out.
Digital marketing allows retailers to form relationships with their customers before they enter your store. Either via email if they are on a mailing list, or by engaging potential customers via social media or digital advertising. In addition, once consumers have bought something and have opted in to receive communication from you, it allows you to target them with adverts for special deals, discounts and items that you think they might want.
Targeted advertising via Google is a great way to get your business out there. This is vastly different from traditional marketing where adverts targeted everyone hoping that the relevant people would see it. Now you only need to pay for adverts that people click on. Pay Per Click advertising will target people that have already shown interest in your products.
Most people still enjoy shopping in store, they love browsing the aisles and picking up and touching items, but with all the digital tools at our disposal, it’s critical to use them to complement your business and stay competitive. When the web started, many businesses thought it was unnecessary to have a website, now you can’t run a business without one. The same goes for digital marketing and social media. The digital revolution has not taken over the retail industry, but it has changed the way we shop.
If you want to find out more about how technology can boost your retail business contact Cape Town’s specialist technology company.