The retail landscape is changing. Traditional shops are closing because they cannot compete with the internet. Woolworths and BHS are just two examples of massive companies which have disappeared from the high street in the UK.
However, this is where brand power and customer loyalty can come into their own. Now if your customers are not internet enabled then clearly that causes an issue. However, I know a large volume of silver surfers and in some respects they are more internet enabled than people in eCommerce. I cannot count how many times my mother or father has pointed me in the direction of an offer or a website which proved ‘fruitful’.
That isn’t going to save the highstreet becoming a pavement swarmed with coffee shops, fast food places or chained restaurants with free wifi.
Businesses need to re-evaluate their online presence. Is it a separate channel or a collaborative effort to service customers? Could you make a sales store a demonstration store? How would you replicate this online? I believe that AO.com has done this very well with their online instructional videos for many of their products.
From personal experience this was a great influencer to purchase when the kitchen at my house was done and I needed new white goods.
What about in the restaurant game where you can add value by selling recipes and cookery lessons?
To me the internet isn’t about being the only sales channel. It’s about a brand providing a different and appealing experience. Let’s face it – we as consumers have less and less time to do anything and if someone is going to take more than two or three minutes to convince me to buy something then I’m sorry I’m gone. Nothing to do with attention span. Nothing to do with impatience or attitude. It’s to do with – “Wow I’ve got so much do to and so little time to do it in”
I even read a piece today on experimental marketing whereby a CMO is quoted as saying that traditional marketing is dead and “we’ve only 6 seconds of a human’s attention span which is less than a goldfish”.
So now the consumers are more demanding than ever. A single poor experience won’t just affect the sale to that individual, but that individual will tell their friends and then then will tell some of their friends and suddenly you’ve done a social media battle on your hands.
Customer experience should be at the forefront of any strategy. This includes:
- will you let your customer service their account online
- will you listen to your customers and engage with them on a personal basis (via their chosen communication channel)
- will you engage with them when deciding new products and services
- will you make the purchase path as easy as possible including wish lists, remember their card details, allow third party payments
The list is almost endless when you look at the whole picture but, it’s also very sector / brand specific.
To conclude – a website isn’t a static thing. You need to listen to the customers to change it. I’m not just talking new products but offering them a new experience to keep them brand loyal. Be brave, Be different. Sometimes you will win and sometimes you will lose. Regardless of which you will learn and more importantly you will learn about your customers.