This week there’s been two pieces of research that have shown that online spending is where ‘it’s at’ – as if you needed convincing.
A league created by analyst TNS Worldpanel revealed that in an annual top 10 list of favourite retailers in the UK, Amazon came 2nd (Tesco was 1st) and eBay came in at number 10 (full report), and research carried out by PwC and WARC shows that 2008 internet advertising expenditure defied the recession by being up by 17%, with the UK now said to be ‘the world’s most advanced market for internet advertising’ (full IAB/PwC report).
I don’t think that this marks the end for bricks and mortar stores or for traditional forms of advertising, but for brands, it’s now more important than ever to ensure their online offering is up to scratch. 9 out of 10 times the first place people go if they are interested in a product is the brand’s website. Apart from ensuring that a positive first impression is made, it’s important that the online design reflects the offline brand. Too often, websites are treated as the poor cousin of the print or TV ad. This is costing brands sales and customers. People online are less forgiving than in the real world. They have many more choices of where to go and within a single click, they’re at a competitor’s website.
Having said that, if online is used properly, it can also be responsible for increasing footfall to stores (I’ll post a full report on this soon). More and more, customers are going online to check the range of products BEFORE visiting the real world store (which could be a significant journey to some). Why risk a wasted journey? The reality is, etailers are simply not displaying their full wares online – for whatever reason – which is ultimately costing them sales online as well as offline.
The message from these reports is clear. It’s all about choice. eCommerce shouldn’t be seen as a threat to traditional retail, but as a key tool in a multi-channel retailing strategy. In a highly competitive market, it’s essential that you make your customer king. Allow them to shop and view on and offline. Give them as much insight and information at each touch point. Provide a 360 degree returns option. Everyone needs to up their game in this climate or risk losing customers to their leaner, more innovative competitors. Etailing and traditional retailing must work hand in hand to ensure survival.