Aussie Retailers MUST Get Online

Ok, it’s getting serious now. Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer or “e-tailer” is looking for a warehouse in Australia as it looks to expand its presence in the AsiaPac region.

What does this mean for Aussie Brick and Mortar stores?

Well, you could panic or you could plan for their arrival or perhaps you could shut up shop and perhaps take a sea or tree change. I think the better option is to prepare.

How do you prepare?

There are a few things you can do.

 Do you have an e-commerce website?

1. Do you have a website? Let’s clarify that, was it built by your nephew or niece or a close friend? If so, is it built on a robust platform to accommodate e-commerce? WordPress is a great place to start, once built you can manage this yourself without the need for a “geek” to update, add or remove products, provide “specials” etc. You need to make sure the site is web 2.0 friendly, if you don’t know what that means, Click Here to read more.

 Your Client Data

2. Do you have a database of contacts, otherwise known as current customers? This MUST include email addresses and they must be Opted In. Do you have an email marketing package to help you contact this list of people? 

Without getting too technical, do you have your contact data base, client history and email marketing package in the same application? Mixing data in various data bases reduces your ability to garnish any insight from people electronic footprint.

 High Quality Images

3. Do you have good quality images of your products? People like to view things online and they like to get a few different shots of the product.

 

4. Do you have a customer service team in place? This doesn’t mean that’ve to have a dedicated call centre, but you MUST, check and respond to enquires in a timely fashion. Checking your email once a day is not sufficient.

You must consider online clients as you would those who physically come to your store. The same principle applies, treat them well, treat them with respect, provide outstanding service and they will buy again and again. As an example Click Here to read Australia Post’s Customer Service Charter.

 

5. Do you have a social media presence? Facebook is probably the key platform for you to use. Don’t use your personal Facebook page, create a specific page for your store and advertise the heck out of it. Put it in all your hard copy printed materials, put it on your physical receipts, invite your current friends to join your page.

Provide specials to people in Facebook that they won’t get anywhere else. And again, the odd login a few times a week is completely inadequate. You MUST look at Facebook throughout the day and RESPOND to people’s comments and queries. Engage with your Facebook ‘friends’ as you would people in the store.

 

6. Do you have SLA’s in place? A SLA (service level agreement) is a policy you create that informs your clients, online and offline, about your commitment to them. How quickly will you respond to customer service enquires, how quickly will you ship products, what are your shipping fees (think about free shipping, you’ll be forced to shortly anyway), what’s your returns policy?

 

7. Have you shopped online yourself? This is key, you need to understand and experience the process yourself to understand how others, especially your competitors are doing “it”. Try to return something, ask questions of them, check out there Facebook page, if they have one. You probably do the same thing today with your brick and mortar competitors, the same principle applies online.

A few years ago my partner and I attended a retail trade show at Darling Harbour in Sydney. We were looking for suppliers to help with an online store we were building for a friend in the US. As we approached one stand, they sold adorable kids clothing and accessories. We asked if they would deal with an online store. Well, if they had a gun I think they would have shot us. “We don’t deal with online stores, only real retailers who have a physical store”

Besides the initial shock, all we could do was laugh at these ladies and feel sad for them as the future for their business could only look dim. They had no idea about what was coming and no idea about the commercial implication of their position.

Think about new channels to market.

You may have a range of products that are attractive to other retailers, online and offline. Why not open your warehouse or retail store front to these businesses to sell for you? Additional channels to market are a great way to reach consumers that you not have the ability to reach yourself.

Don’t be like the ladies above and have your head in the sand, look for opportunities to move additional product. Selling stock at a wholesale price to a channel partner verses selling no product, is a no brainer.

The team at CRMNow have a depth of experience both from a business point of view and a technology point of view. We can help you with each of the steps above and can help you prepare for the onslaught of giant US based e-tailers who are about to enter the market in a massive way.

Don’t get lost in the wake of these changes, embrace them and do what you do best. Provide excellent products, great service and people will buy from from you as they always have. The added advantage to being online is that you expose your business to a global audience of billions and not just the folks in your surrounding suburbs.

You can also provide Aussies in remote regional locations access to a much wider variety of goods and services. As the National Broadband Network (NBN) comes online, you can take advantage of people’s improved level of access to online stores like yours.

What’s the investment?

Well, the options look to be closing your brick and mortar store or building a business for the future. Call or email us and I think you’ll be surprised.

 

About Derek

Derek has worked in the Sales & Marketing Consulting and CRM industries for over 17 years. He's consulted to companies here and overseas helping them develop processes to support their lead generation, marketing and sales businesses. He sees CRM as an enabler and not a solution by and of itself. Implemented with users in mind and a clear view of defined processes, companies can derive great value from their CRM.

View all posts by Derek

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