The way we shop has changed beyond recognition over the past few years. The culprit? The internet.
We’ve all seen British institutions such as Comet, Jessops and HMV disappear from the high street recently only to be replaced by ‘to let’ signs or pound shops. Of course, the recession has played its part in their demise, but online shopping has undoubtedly affected the performance of most high street regulars. Unless, of course, they have embraced the thing that was threatening their success and used it reach further heights.
Retailers which took their business online have been able to continue engaging with their customers, and even found it easier to reach the next generation of shoppers; a younger demographic used to getting everything they need from world wide web. What’s more, it’s opened doors for national brands to expand their offering to a global audience thanks to strategic website localisation (ASOS being a good case study for overseas success).
Many businesses regard their high street position as their central source of custom, but it’s time these tables were turned and CEO’s began paying more attention to their website. Of course, there will always be a need for a presence in cities and towns. But the fact that people are often more likely to be able to shop online than visit a single shop isn’t something to be scoffed at by the boardroom. In fact, last December’s increase in overall retail sales was due to online shopping, which was responsible for 17.8% of total growth.
While some sectors have barely been touched by the online retail boom (such as health and beauty, food, and DIY, each accounting for less than a 6% share of online retail sales), others have been utterly consumed by web-based shopping. The music and video industry has experienced the biggest upheaval (with an 80% share – an unsurprising finding given the developments in downloadable media) and is followed by books, electricals, and clothing.
For many consumers, the internet is their first port of call before they make a purchase. Accessible anywhere, at any time (as long as you’re connected), shoppers enjoy the ease and flexibility afforded to them by online shopping, not to mention the option to shop around at the click of a button, as well as the reduced costs and use of discount codes. But consumers aren’t the only ones to benefit from internet shopping.
Keeping your business afloat and potential for international expansion aren’t the only advantages to be had from taking your brand online. Obvious plus’s are the low overheads, and the reduction on property and staffing costs.
Of course, you’ll have other, different expenses to contend with, such as website hosting, postage and packaging, customer service, search engine marketing and retail translation services should you take your business global.
But every brand is different, requiring a different portal and appealing to different people. No matter what industry they operate in, each business should take into consideration the merits and financial implications of both the high street and online space, but bear in mind that we are moving towards a future of virtual reality, where we play out our lives online and the internet is king.