November 13, 2012

Making friends: ecommerce and independent retailers

Written By Martin Sandhu

‘The internet is killing the high street’…how many times have you heard that lately? And as we hurtle towards Christmas it’s likely to be heard yet more.

Luxury and independent retailers need to embrace ecommerce, not only to survive but to take a bite out of the established retailers already thriving online.

Comet failed to grasp online commerce

The advent of smartphones and tablets means online shopping is no longer dominated by those simply looking to get the best price. As practically an extension of our arms, more and more people are using their mobiles to browse and purchase products online, whether they’re commuting to work or sat in bed on a Sunday morning. And some luxury and independent retailers are finding that ecommerce is the saviour of their business.

“The real issue we’ve faced since the advent of digital is that it is very difficult to replicate the essence of the luxury brand experience.”
Scott Forshay, mobile and emerging technologies strategist, Acquity Group

Independent stores have a unique brand and experience and an understandable fear that by diluting that online they demote themselves to just another face in the crowd…or website on the internet. However, there are many examples of this simply not being the case.

Ecommerce has come a long way and independents can now replicate their brand and shopping experience online. Couple that with the use of social media channels and independent stores can  deliver customer service online which is often better than in-store.

Take clothes stores and footwear retailers; through promoting and supporting online purchasing on Twitter, using the data collected via the website for email marketing – to ensure the product was OK – and then executing personal styling campaigns through the various channels, small fashion labels are not only able to attract customers from much further afield, but build relationships with them and encourage repeat custom. If a customer made a purchase in-store and never returned, that would be the end of it.

Toad Footwear mobile ecommerce website by Roller Agency

Building an ecommerce site is a start, but customers will come through SEO and social media efforts. Allowing your brand to be reflected through social media will not only create sales leads but it is also the best tool to stand out against larger retailers. A personal service can still be delivered online.

One very important point to remember when thinking about ecommerce is the mobile user experience. Ensuring your website is optimised for all screen sizes, or that you build a solid app which supports purchasing is imperative to capture the increasing amount of mobile shoppers.