Comment: Recession vs. Webstore
With Thorntons shutting up 180 stores, Habitat’s UK arm calling in the administrator and the demise of Jane Norman and TJ Hughes, the list of High Street casualties is growing ever longer. With the sudden glut of Retail fatalities, is it the fall out of the recession still taking its toll, or is it the demand for online retailing and its capacity to adapt to the changing need of the customer, which has overshadowed traditional shopping channels? Internet Marketing expert I believe that the recession means that apart from the very rich whose buying power is not really affected, everyone else is i) reducing their purchasing of major and/or don’t need to have items and ii) being extremely cost conscious - buying lesser brands, comparing prices rigorously and making less impulsive purchases.
What retailers need to ensure is that they are constantly evolving, and have a strong online presence. Extensive identification of the changing behaviours of shoppers proves that they are time poor, and their shopping experiences may fail to extend beyond a lunch time log-on to their favourite website, or shopping via an App on their smartphone during the commute home. By recognising these changes it is vital for retailers to adapt accordingly and ensure they have effective multi channel retailing.
New Look is a case in point. They have a massive Facebook follower base and they have been very innovative across their multi-channels, mixing online and offline experiences to combine the best of both. Their click and pick service means that you can order online and pick up in store; a service which other large Retailers such as Tesco are increasingly beginning to offer. Similarly you can select an item that’s out of stock at the till in-store, and then have that item delivered to your home address a few days later. This strategy is working for them: New Look is fast expanding at the time other retailers are struggling or going out of business.
It is imperative that companies embrace change, rather than stand by and do nothing to address the shift toward the Internet. 'Companies who fail to innovate and move with customer trends will be left behind'. 'An online presence is a vital part of the retail landscape now, and if your business hasn’t moved in years and is failing to adapt, you cannot expect to continue to have a place on a very different high street to that of ten years ago'.
The recent retail casualties are an example of this – they were no longer relevant to their audience, had no niche or could not compete with the likes of superbrands Tesco, who offer convenience, value for money, and accessibility through their multi channel retail.
People are spending more and more time online, and companies need to position themselves where there customers are looking – on the Internet. “One look at the brands that are going from strength to strength shows that it is, and will continue to be, an integral part of the shopping experience for many years to come”.
Richard Wood is Managing Director at Gillissa
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