We don't shop like we used to. As this week sees another high street casualty in the form of House Of Fraser, the world of storefront shopping seems to continue to suffer.
Meanwhile, ecommerce is going from strength to strength. According to the Royal Mail, 'online shoppers in the UK make 80% of their retail purchases online, up from 74%' 1
Our lives are moving more and more digital. Customers want instant gratification without disturbing their daily routines. In 2018, if your retail business isn’t keeping up with current trends, you’re going to get left behind.
UK high street retail has been somewhat in a state of flux for the last 10 years. Whilst the numbers are generally overall heading downwards, there have been some upturns along the way (and, as always with market trends, there have been a handful of brands defying the curve). We’ve identified a number of new challenges facing retailers:
Multiplying channels: The average consumer has the option of shopping in person at a physical store or online via their smartphone, tablet or desktop, evoking competition between online and physical stores
The growth of online shopping: Customers are also more comfortable than ever at committing to online purchases. Physical stores need to work quickly to update their ways of working to ensure customers are as satisfied offline as they are on
Great expectations: With widespread Internet access, consumers expect their purchases quicker and easier than ever before with a seamless purchasing experience
Unpredictable customers: Retailers can no longer depend on customer loyalty. The proliferation of Internet retailing means people can shop around more easily for best value. These same shoppers are equally happy to publicly complain over social media channels if their expectations are not met and this means reputation has never been harder to maintain.
If we look at the numbers, courtesy of Retailresearch.org "E-commerce is the fastest growing retail market in Europe and North America. Online sales in Western Europe and Poland grew from £174.76 bn [€201.33 bn] in 2015 to £201.90 bn [€232.60 bn] in 2016 (+15.6%). In 2017, we expect total e-commerce online sales to increase to £230.62 bn [€265.68 bn], a rise of 14.2%. Further growth of 13.8% in 2018 should mean that online sales reach £262.46 bn [€302.37 bn]." 2
How can you prepare for it?
First things first, you need to ensure your website is pulling its weight.
Even if you have a high street location bringing in a good number of customers each month and sales are going well, you still need to ensure your website is providing them with everything they need.
Social media has been an essential marketing tool for years now. However, in this new age of instant-gratification ecommerce, the power of social is not just about influencing potential shoppers, but also as a shopping platform in and of itself.
Nearly 25% of business owners are selling through Facebook and 40% are using social media as a whole to generate sales. 3 This number is only going to increase. In March of this year, Instagram added their new shopping feature - allowing users to click on a post and see additional information about the product. This includes an image, product description and price information.
In fact, 30% of consumers say they would make purchases through Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat. As these percentages increase, your business needs to be ready for this transition.
Keep on top of where you're spending, your return on investment (ROI) and where your competitors are spending.
There is a huge amount of data available to you as an ecommerce business. Even in the wake of GDPR you can still gain helpful information on customer online habits. Use this data to optimise your marketing strategy. If your website is seeing an unreasonably high bounce rate then you will want to think about why this is. Could your user interface be more straightforward? Is your website problematic on mobile devices, or slow to load on desktop?
When it comes to elevating your retail business in a digital world, we can help. Get in touch today about website and app development for your brand, social strategizing and overall digital marketing.