may have noticed a plethora of big name Australian retailers recently
launching or announcing plans to launch brand new web sites. Freedom
Furniture, Cue Design, Country Road, Liquorland, Angus & Coote/Goldmark
are all jostling for position in Australia’s e-tail boom.
you’d asked these firms 12 months ago if they were interested in going
on-line, it’s likely most of them would have told you they were taking a
“wait and see” approach. Led by outspoken Gerry Harvey of Harvey Norman,
some big retail chains were sceptical of the value of developing web sites
both because of the expense and the possible demise of business to their
bricks and mortar stores. If you’d asked them six months ago, you’d have
found their attitude had changed to “we know we need to get on the Internet,
it’s just a matter of time and money”.
Now it seems the time is right for many of these retail businesses to make a
move. They’ve seen the success of small firms setting up shop on the Net and
they’ve witnessed the blind faith manufacturers like Compaq have shown by
bypassing retail distributors and opening their own e-stores. They know their
potential on-line markets are already being eroded and are responding quickly.
Some, it seems, are responding too quickly. All of a sudden they’re in such a
hurry that they don’t think about the real opportunities and fail to develop a
sound Internet strategy.
Whether retailers decide on a basic “brochureware” site or a full e-commerce
portal with shopping cart functionality, scalability is key. Some of the
latest sites may look sensational, but often there has been no real thought
put into their ultimate purpose, target market or future development. By not
matching site goals with their overall business strategy, actively promoting
the site or researching who their target on-line market is, these retailers
are risking a huge investment of time and money. And unless their web site is
designed to grow and develop in line with the changing business requirements,
retailers could be left with a very expensive lemon.
what are the major considerations for retailers moving on-line?
is everything – Well
known off-line retailers have a distinctive advantage when moving on-line.
Unlike Internet start-ups, they already have strong brand awareness and a
huge market, they just need to inform customers of their new on-line
channel and give them a good reason to go there. Their bricks and mortar
customers will be familiar with the product/service offering of the
company, and providing the new site meets/exceeds customer expectations
and integrates well with their bricks & mortar stores, it should be
is not – No matter how
well it’s disguised, a rip-off is still a rip-off. Just because it’s
more convenient to buy on-line, if it’s going to cost the same as or
more than the off-line version once shipping charges are added on, the
customer won’t bother. Retailers should take advantage of the internal
cost savings of Internet retailing by passing them on as discounts or
freebies to the customer. On the Internet, word of a bargain travels fast.
Here is an ideal opportunity to grow the on-line brand and gain repeat
tracking and CRM – The
Internet provides an ideal medium for the “acceptable” collection of
customer preferences and purchasing behaviour. Given the personalised
nature of web browsing and on-line shopping, customers don’t seem to
mind giving out more specific details of their product preferences and
interests. It seems they prefer visiting sites that are “tailored” to
meet their individual interests. They also don’t mind Amazon.com
style suggestive cross-selling. Retailers need to grab permission-based
marketing opportunities to gather as much data about their customers as
they can – and more importantly – give them what they are asking for.
hours are 24/7 & marketplace is global
– Unlike their off-line stores, e-tailers are open 24 hours a day, seven
days a week. They are also opening their doors to billions of potential
customers worldwide. Unless e-tailers are willing to respond quickly to
all email inquiries and on-line orders, customers will go to their
competitor’s site a few “clicks” away. E-tailers need to ask
themselves questions like: Can inventory cope with 10 bulk orders at once?
Will we pay for delivery to Zimbabwe? Can we take orders in foreign
currency? They should take e-commerce very seriously and ensure their
infrastructure can meet demand or else delay on-line transaction ability
until it can.
is king – After the
novelty of having their favourite retailer on-line has worn off, customers
will be looking for sites that not only provide the goods and services
they want, but those that can keep them entertained or informed as well.
The power of “portals” – web sites that act as global
“marketplaces” for information about and access to particular goods,
services or industries – is not to be denied. But e-tailers don’t have
to create portals to keep customers interested. How about adding a chat
room, an on-line game or a bulletin board to the site? Giving users of a
product/service access to each other is a powerful way to build a
“virtual community” around a brand and a base from which to build
promote, promote! – Just
because they have done the research, built and launched what may be the
world’s best web site, doesn’t mean e-tailers will have customers
beating down their virtual door. Professional search engine registration
and announcement of the site launch via on-line and traditional off-line
marketing and advertising channels is critical to getting “hits” on
the site. Companies need to include their site URL on all corporate
stationary, branded material, signage, advertisements and promotional
merchandise. They need to consider implementing a direct marketing / P.R.
campaign or a special advertisement to inform customers about their new
site. They should train their sales team and other staff to promote the
site at every opportunity. For on-line promotion e-tailers can hire
professional Internet marketers to develop banner ads and email
newsletters or negotiate portal partnerships or reciprocal link agreements
will probably always be retailers that will resist the web wave, refusing to
develop an Internet strategy for fear of the unknown. But with the current
e-tail boom and the Internet dramatically changing the way the world does
business, the stragglers will soon be forced to sit up and take notice.
The above article may be
re-published as long as the content remains unchanged and the following
paragraph is included at the end of the article, including the URL link.
Article by Kalena
Jordan, CEO of Web Rank.
Kalena was one of the first search engine optimization experts
in Australasia and is well known and respected in her field.
For more of her articles on search engine ranking and online
marketing, please visit
High Search Engine Ranking.
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