All the data shows online retail grows year on year, and JLP has recently published its online sales will be greater than in the stores by 2019. But ‘online’ is not something that is right for every retailer, unless you have a strong online presence it can be very difficult to be found and it is very expensive to set up and support - so only do it if you want to...
It’s why portals like NOT ON THE HIGHSTREET and ETSY are proving so popular with small businesses as it gives them visibility they could never have as individual businesses. Interestingly similar portals for retailers are starting to appear which could be really helpful in keeping our high streets alive… it’s worth checking to see if a network is being set up in your area where local retailers can have a group online presence.
Another way to be involved, if you have the space/location, is to offer your services as a Collection Point for larger retailers; JLP states that most Click and Collect customers spend again when they come to collect.
It’s also worth checking if there is there anything being offered by your local Business Improvement District that could allow you to compete in this arena?
Interesting one of the longer term impacts of online shopping is consumers perceptions of how late they can leave ordering especially by mail order, with constant improvements or promises of improvements on delivery times. 10 years ago you’d need to order 28 days prior to delivery - now we can see consumers leaving it to 48 hours before and expecting it to be there on time!!
Anecdotally this appears to be impacting on retail sales too with Christmas card sales starting to build at the end of November now rather than early November as it was 5 years ago… this might mean you want to consider keeping your everyday products on sale longer?
The use of mobile devices to purchase continues to grow at an amazing pace and shows no sign of slowing down but transactional websites are not practical or appropriate for all businesses but you can still benefit from this trend even if you haven’t got one. The use of mobile devices to research, price compare, find stockists etc etc means that even if you don’t want/need / can’t afford a transactional website you could still have a great landing page for your business. This would mean you could have a visible presence on the internet which shows the new products that have just arrived and talks about upcoming events and promotions so you create interest for your business and encourage followers.
Ideally then you or one of your staff could create and maintain a presence for your business on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram to build up a profile and interest potential customers/followers.
Just remember - if you are going to do it you must do it regularly and well…