How is your retail business performing in the current market? David Jones and Myer are 10% down again on last year and Harvey Norman sales and profits are down closer to 15%. You don’t really want to know where their share prices are at! The market is heavily discounting the traditional retailers and Billabong is another traditional retailer that continues to fall!
The reality is that traditional retailers are struggling to compete in the new global online retail environment. Some of the smaller, more nimble retailers that are pursuing a ‘multi or omni’ channel approach are still achieving growth but most others are sliding big time and many are going into receivership.
Having said that, as Ryan and I have made our way across the Country this year attending a range of online conferences we have met a number of online retailers who have started to struggle to achieve the growth they are used to achieving. Is this because:
- Retail across the board is in decline?
- The online market is becoming saturated?
- They have failed to continue innovating?
With double digit growth continuing in the online retail space there is no doubt this is the market place in which to be investing. However, in order to maximise your sales over the Christmas period online retailers need to be ‘thinking outside the square’. The online space is becoming more crowded and the operators in the online space are becoming more savvy, so for some, the ‘first mover’ advantage is starting to wane. In some of our previous Neto blogs we have addressed a range of online strategies to increase traffic to your site and ultimately your sales. Unfortunately, our Neto online consulting division are seeing many examples of online retailers who have rushed to join the online explosion but have failed to continue investing in their online business.
In fact, the research by our Neto team indicates that online, even more so than offline retailing requires continual investment and innovation to stay ahead of the curve and keep customers coming back to your site. While it is true that most successful online retail websites tend to be quite ‘plain’ when compared to many other websites, the reality is that the functionality and user flow is very important. In one of our September blogs we spent some time talking about ‘frictionless ecommerce’ and we believe the concept of ‘frictionless transacting’ is going to set online retailers apart over the coming years.
But back to maximising your sales over the next 6 weeks!
1. Ensure you have access to all of the stock you are displaying on your website shopping cart – being out of stock is one sure way of losing not only the current sale but potentially a customer for life!
2. Offer SALE incentives or COUPONS – a the end of the day, retailing online and bricks and mortar is all about exciting the customer and getting their attention. Just as Sex sells, so too does an OFFER! This does not mean you have to heavily discount your products but you need to have a ‘leading offer’ or ‘value add’ to the purchase.
3. Put some time pressure around buying – nothing leads to a sale quicker than some urgency around when you have to make the purchase decision. It could be a count down on the price where the price increases every day as you get closer to Christmas, it could be that if you order before a certain date you get the item cheaper or with some additional product included or free shipping.
4. Reinforce your core competencies or differences – there are now a large number of comparison shopping sites and the web has really increased the transparency of the purchase decision (both on and offline) however as we all know, every business is different and some online retailers have some very compelling reasons to buy from them, such as same day delivery or a no questions asked returns policy. Tell those who visit your online shopping cart about these benefits of shopping with you.
5. When was the last time you emailed your database? Now is a great time to whip up an email and send it to your database. You might even like to develop some kind of special offer aimed to re-engage those customers who have shopped with you before.
6. Leverage Social Media and get people talking about your products or services – Word of Mouth via Social Media is becoming more powerful every day. Use this to your advantage and get your customers and potential customers talking about your business in Social Media forums. This will also greatly help with SEO. Irrelevant backlinks are out and referrals, likes and social media discussion are in!
7. Increase your spend on Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising – the results should be immediate and measurable. You can monitor your PPC strategies 24/7 and you can create campaigns 24/7 via google ad words, FaceBook and any other mediums you choose to use.
8. Get some PR – You don’t need to have a full time PR agency to get good PR. While we strongly recommend you use professional PR people they can really provide a huge boost for a small investment. For example, have a look at www.integr8group.com.au/shop/
9. Free Shipping – studies have shown up to a 40% increase in sales as a result.
10. Streamline your operations to cope with the increase in volume – nobody wants a Christmas present delivered after Christmas (unless it’s Free and even then they probably won’t be happy). Make sure you are ready for the increase in Christmas purchases from your online shopping cart.
If you do not experience at least a 50% increase in your sales revenue over the next 6 weeks from employing all of the above 10 strategies you need to reconsider what you are selling online. The sales are there for the taking. Make the most of the next 6 weeks.
As a closing point, throughout this blog we have referred to your online shopping cart but as we have outlined in a number of previous Neto blogs, the real key to building your online retail business is multi channelling, so you need to explore selling in other channels such as eBay and FaceBook, www.neto.com.au/shop/