12 Reasons Your Next Retail Location Choice Should be Online

Faster and more affordable technology, mobile phones in almost every shopper’s hands, increased online research and “showrooming” retail buyer behaviours, the appearance of e-commerce giants like Amazon, the increased cost of real estate, a faster and more efficient supply chain, and the rise of easy to use yet powerful ecommerce software are all recent trends that have driven more and more entrepreneurial retailers like you to look to ecommerce to take their stores online in order to realise their growth and expansion goals.

In 2016, Australian consumers spent approximately $17.7 billion on physical goods purchased online. 
– Inside Australian Online Shopping – 2107 E-commerce Industry Paper

Year over year growth in online spending from 2015 – 2016 significantly outperformed traditional retail spending by over three times!

And, almost 80% of expenditures were on Australian products, rather than international ones.

Whether you’re Homewares & Appliances, Media, Fashion, Health & Beauty, or Hobbies & Recreational goods or Department & Variety or Specialty food & Liquor, your type of store is seeing significant action online.

Retailers who are investing in digital innovations and focusing on customer experiences are seeing their efforts pay off.
Inside Australian Online Shopping – 2107 E-commerce Industry Paper

Still not convinced, e-commerce is for you?  Here are just a few more reasons not to overlook the strategic advantages of taking your store and its products online.

  1. Expanded geographical reach: The right online store can level the geographical playing field. A local business can become a national, or even an international business, just through having an effective e-commerce strategy. If you do sell outside Australia you’ll need to comply with regulations and understand tax and import/export issues, but this, too, is becoming easier and easier to manage.
  2. An expanded potential customer base: An e-commerce business is yet another buying channel, capable of attracting customers who have not bought or even heard of you before.
  3. Being open for business 24/7: You’d probably never consider keeping your physical store open all day and all night, all week, all year, but, with automated order and payment processing, sales can be made at any time, and customers can buy when it’s convenient for them. With limited retail hours here in Australia, this is a huge advantage as it more than doubles your number of “open” hours.
  4. Reduced overheads: Overall, an online store costs less to establish and run than a physical shop, although it’s important to recognise that making e-commerce work requires continuing investment, but so does a bricks and mortar store.
  1. Lower marketing costs with better targeting: Online promotion can be more precisely aimed at potential customers than using conventional media. It’s also much cheaper, for example, to send a marketing message by e-mail to 1,000 customers than it is to send 1,000 newsletters by post.
  2. Increased visibility for your business: with investment in search engine optimisation and a little online promotion, an ecommerce store becomes more accessible to customers searching for your products, potential alliance partners, and for suppliers and even potential staff.
  3. Minimised some of the physical store challenges: online shops reduce the occurrence of shoplifting, customer-caused damages, or potential in-store accidents which can often eat away your profits.
  4. Greater flexibility: an online store can be updated instantly and as often as you like – for example, markdowns are completed in a few clicks, not tags need changing. You can promote a daily deal on your front page or as a pop up, without any need for expensive printed display material or staff time to update it.
  5. Improved customer profiling: With the opportunity to target products and services at specific groups based on buying data and a shopper profile if you’ve asked them to create one.
  6. The ability to tell people about your business: You can add information about the business that may be hard to share in-store. You can provide information about the concept, the history, opening hours, contact details and answers to Frequently Asked Questions, loyalty programs, in-store events, and so much more. 
  7. Another marketing channel: Your online store can support your marketing efforts by including customer reviews and testimonials, and looking for opportunities to invite online shoppers into physical stores and share testimonials, or shopper profiles and case studies if needed.
  8. Faster and easier A/B testing of in-store promotions and pricing options: The research muscle that can accompany an e-commerce sight is up to some heavy lifting. You can test various visual formats, product pricing, headlines, etc. all at your leisure and all without any other investment than a bit of time to key it in.

As you can see, there are numerous reasons to dip your retail toes into online waters.

But most of all, given recent retail trends, customer behaviours, and the ubiquitous nature of technology, it just makes good strategic business sense to do so.

And, isn’t that what drives the best businesses to succeed?

Resource:

Inside Australian Online Shopping – 2107 E-commerce Industry Paper – This paper provides heaps of information about the state of Australian ecommerce.