Canadian Retailer - Spring 2014 - 33
QUESTIONS TO STEER ONLINE RETAILERS
Independent retailers who want to develop e-commerce channels for their business need to start with questions.
Who am I trying to service?
In online commerce, the target
isn't as straightforward as the local
market. "They aren't people coming into the store from the street,"
says Andrew McCartney, Managing
Director of Tribal Worldwide. When
examining the potential online,
retailers should consider who they
want to attract. The more narrowly
they can define their target demographic, the easier it is to hit them.
What is the context of these shoppers?
McCartney says that retailers want
to get a sense of the lives and needs
of the shoppers they target-the context of the customers' lives. Are they
shoppers who are always in a rush?
Are they customers buying gifts for
somebody else, or are they shopping for themselves? Do they have
children? Knowing the context will
help retailers know what these target
customers want from an online store.
What is the ROI on a website?
"Investments can be costly," McCartney says, "Not just about getting
it right but getting a good return on
investment." Setting up a website
can be remarkably cheap in 2014, but
retailers need to factor other costs
into the development, like the labour,
marketing and education involved.
What is the customer's ROI for
browsing the website?
If a customer is going to surf a
store's website for one, two, or twenty
minutes, they need some kind of
return for the time they invest. It
might be price-point, an easy user
experience, good service, consistent
branding or a fast check-out. "Brands
that deliver an ROI for the customer's
browsing are rewarded with high
traffic," says McCartney.
Is the brand message consistent?
"Consistency and accuracy is
important because customers are
not shopping brand in one way," says
McCartney, "You don't feel like you're
dealing with two retailers." Retailers
will want to deliver consistent quality
in the incentives, services, pricing,
and inventory across channels.
Amanda Beaubien's reaping the awards of online sales.
smiles and offers a compliment or a complaint.
In an online environment, retailers have to try
something and wait to see what the data reveals about customer activity.
Beaubien's experiments with online retailing
have generated results. What has worked for
her? Free shipping closes sales. "The second we
switched to free shipping, we saw a huge jump in
sales," she says. Amanda May now has customers across North America, Japan and Australia.
On a $300 order, free shipping is a small discount
for the retailer but a huge incentive for customers. The other tactic that has attracted traffic is
free returns. In apparel, where customers need
to try something on to know if it fits, customers
are more comfortable placing orders if they know
they can return the product at no cost.
Leveraging the profile of other brands-and
building the profile of new brands-has been
another tactic that has helped Amanda May
Lingerie to generate online traffic.
"Working with brands that have a lot of recognition is a huge thing," says Beaubien. The
big brands have an audience that will buy from
an independent because they want the product. If the independent can hook the customer
with the product, they might hook them with
service or pricing. And then, maybe, the customer will shop at the independent because
they like the store, not just the service.
But Beaubien says she has found traction
with customers by advocating for smaller
brands. She says the store works closely with
brands to stage photo shoots and marketing
that works in an online selling environment.
It's also one of the ways Amanda May Lingerie
distinguishes itself as a category expert-because they know the trends and the next big
brand before it becomes big.
The education is constant. Handselling is a
long-practiced art, and most retailers do it well.
Online retailing is entirely different. "In online
selling, you have to do more research to make
sure you're current with what customers are
looking for," says Beaubien.
Snakes and Lattes and Sales
When Snakes and Lattes opened an online
store, they knew they had to do something different from the in-store experience.
www.retailcouncil.org/cdnretailer | spring 2014 | canadian retailer |