Following the news of early 2013 high street casualties there have been more discouraging reports for retailers with the announcement of the festive sales figures.
The latest official figures from the Office of National Statistics show the slowest annual growth rate for a December since 1998 – barring 2010 when heavy snow deterred shoppers. Clothing and sales have been the worst hit, but online retailers did well. However, this won’t be a great shock for the industry, as for some time figures have verified the shift in consumer spend from high street to online shopping.Much of our work with retailers has been about balancing online and in-store propositions and this is the crux of the matter – how do you strike the right balance and create synergy to maximise shopper engagement and make the sale.
One of the biggest developments in the way people shop is the growing use of mobile devices for comparing products and prices, accessing promotions or making a purchase. People are equipped with the technology to stand in your store but buy from a competitor and the the line between sales channels is becoming distorted.
Online retail is all about competitive pricing and as the economic recovery looks slow, consumers will continue to look for the best deals. In-store things become a little more complex, but here is where you can add real value, forging relationships that drive loyalty.
Having experts on hand to guide and advise shoppers is key to this and offering a truly personal experience will give people an incentive to return to your store.
Pricing should be as competitive online or offer a price match pledge. Also, take advantage of new technology by linking POS material to your online space with additional valuable information such as educational ‘how-to’ videos and independent reviews. This approach can be particularly effective for high price tag or more complex purchases, providing an extra layer of engagement in-store.
Retailers should also make the most of social media, linking materials in-store to your social sites to provide a way for people to share their experiences and extend your marketing reach.
The online world shouldn’t be viewed with suspicion or as a threat. Remember, only those that fully embrace it will be able to reap the huge benefits that it can bring.