Retailers MUST Embrace The Online Space Without Delay!

In July I was presenting Social Media Seminars at the GHA (Gift & Homewares Australia) Home & Giving Trade Show to Exhibitors and Retailers.

It quickly became apparent to me that I was largely talking to an audience that had not yet dipped it’s toe into the online space let alone considered Social Media as a tool!!!!  I had thought that more retailers were in the space in Australia, using the great retailers I dealt with in my wholesale business (Paper Magnolia) as a guide, I was wrong!

Although retailers and trade had been slow moving online, the consumer had not.  Australians have always been early adopters of technology, whether it be the Commodore 64 or mobile phones.  

The emergence of online shopping and the speed to market of international sites / stores has resulted in a door being opened to Australian consumers, making the distance from international markets only as far as the keyboard and not a plane ride away!!  Let me be clear, the consumer is driving all the activity here and in most cases, businesses are trying to keep up.  The playing field has changed.

We (consumers) have watched in anticipation as American stores have been trading online for years, longing to have the same access but freight and payment issues delayed our ability to buy.  It was not hard ot figure out international shipping and payment, we were simply too small a market for them to invest time or money into.  As the integration of freight calculators and payment options were developed and made easier, the barriers came down and we can shop on many more international sites than ever before.

The GFC forced many large retailers to properly develop their E-Commerce sites.  Add to this the strong Australian Dollar and the Australian consumer is a happy shopper!!

Not so the Aussie retailer, importer, wholesaler or manufacturer!!  Where once they operated in a coccoon, they now are operating in an open transparent market and they are not equipped to do so. I am not only talking about small independent retailers here, our two large department stores Myer and David Jones have been ridiculously slow in moving online.

Online integration should not be considered as separate to or a replacement for offline execution but must be used in conjunction with offline activity.  It is a vital part of a business’ customer service.  Consumers seek information, service and support online and immediately reject the business if it is not there immediately, easily seeking an alternative (read competitor).

Retail, in the mainstream market, has not been that exciting for a very long time in Australia.  The luxury end has executed retail well and are masters are creating an all round positive shopping experience.  Retailers need to seriously apply themselves to their craft and must employ all the tools at their disposal to survive in this competitive market.  They also have a lot to learn to catch up with the ever moving (upwards) benchmark.

As a marketer, who was also a wholesaler and retailer, I kept up to date with what was happening in the market.  My experience in with market place and mu transition in the online space, especially building my own website & online store, give me an understanding of the challenges and requirements that retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers, importers face. 

I have continually encountered retailers who do not know where to start or who have paid thousands of dollars for obsolete websites and are resource poor.  The Online Retailer show I attended in July ignored the independent retailer totally.

Until recently there was not a affordable, maintainable solution for these businesses. The development of accessible websites, social media sites and consumer participation has given businesses tools they have never before had access to that could revolutionise their business.

However, all the tools in the world still can’t build anything without skill and know-how.  The knowledge and the strategy required to use these tools effectively is vital.

To share the information on these tools and how to get started, I am holding a seminar; “Online Retail Marketing Tools: website + e-commerce + social media & strategy“. 

WEDNESDAY 24 November 2010   ::   10.00 am   –   12.30 pm 

ZOO BAR Level 1 Norton Plaza, 55 Norton St Leichhardt NSW

I recommend the seminar for anyone to understand what is happening online and what they need to do to get started.  More information here.

If you can’t attend the seminar and would like to work with me to help you develop your business in the right direction, please email me and I will be happy to be in touch..

2 Comments

  1. November 17, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing, a great reminder for thos of us trying to keep up with the social media shift.

  2. November 17, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    Thanks Edwynna, it is really a shift in consumer behaviour that leads to a shift in communication practices, you are a great example of an evolving retailer!! cheers :-)

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