High Street Retail
John W. Hayes

Member Article

A great new online channel: the high street

There has been a lot of mud thrown around recently by major high street retailers in the direction of online sellers. This has resulted in the British Retail Consortium reportedly calling for government to levy a new tax on online retailers in order to save the high street.

There are three things wrong with this:

  • The Internet offers a level playing field to all retailers regardless of whether they sell online or on the high street. Indeed many of the UK’s largest retailers (Argos, Tesco, John Lewis, Next, etc.) operate some of the most successful online brands.
  • High street retailers still have preferential access to many brands and products (with the larger chains having greater buying power resulting in better bulk purchase discounts). Indeed, there are still a number of high profile brands that refuse to sell their products to pure play online retailers.
  • It is not a business’s God-given right to stay in business if they are not providing the kind of service its customers are looking for. Attacking the competition instead of focusing on putting your own business in shape is an extremely negative way of doing business and will only delay the inevitable for a short period of time.

Here’s the thing. I love the high street. I love to spend hours browsing in good book shops, checking out new technology (that I can actually pick up and try) and even trailing after my partner and children as they shop for shoes (actually the last one is a lie).

The high street’s future would look a lot brighter if it embraced the Internet instead of attacking it.

Let’s take a look at a couple of High Street/Online Channel integrations that could work for many retailers today:

Showrooming

Showrooming (where high street premises are used to demonstrate and sell products) has the potential to become a major new online channel for businesses looking to integrate their high street and online operations.

This would mean more floor space would be dedicated to showing off products (not warehousing numerous sizes and colours) with trained sales assistants, demonstrating products, offering alternatives, customizing items and taking orders for delivery (next day or even same day) and suggesting upsell opportunities. This would be especially useful for large or high ticket items that might sit in a store for weeks or even months before being sold.

Showrooming is very similar to the way someone would buy a car today. They visit the showroom, select a car, add specifications, negotiate a price and arrange a delivery. There is no reason this could work for a washing machine, a bicycle or a suit.

Click and Collect

Sometimes a customer would prefer to collect an item in person than wait in for a courier. Click and Collect (where an order is placed online and collected at a retail outlet) can be an amazing driver of footfall. And when the customer is in your shop, they represent a valuable opportunity to upsell added value items or make an additional impulse purchase.

To really benefit from Click and Collect the store staff again need to be better trained. This is not just an opportunity to pass an item over a counter, it’s an opportunity to sell again.

Such approaches only go to serve to highlight that successful retailers are embracing every available channel open to them—online and offline. For those retailers still only selling offline, they may be surprised at the solutions available to quickly get their entire stock listed and selling across multiple channels too—software like SellerExpress offers an all-in-one multichannel ecommerce solution for both online and offline retailers.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by John W. Hayes .

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