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Retailers: Are You Failing to Compete With the Internet

February 17, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 168

I had an interesting conversation with a retailer in one of the local country towns yesterday. My vociferous shop-keeper was explaining how house prices would eventually collapse in the town if people continued to buy from the internet instead of the town's shops. Why? Well her argument went that when the town is full of boarded up shops, the value of their houses would be lower. So ultimately they would pay the price of shopping online for lower prices instead of buying locally.

Now, I try to support local businesses where I can, and given this conversation just a day ago, my experience today was revealing. I had a need for ink for my photo-printer. So I made a trip into town to buy a replacement cartridge and visited the local computer retailer. Unfortunately, from the range I needed, the one colour that was missing was the one colour I needed. If they'd had the colour I needed I would have bought three other colours as well, so they missed out on a £64 sale.

Of course they offered to order it for me, but I could do that myself online and save myself 25% even with postage and packaging, and get it delivered to my door.

So I thanked him but declined. I could have explained to him why, but in my experience that tends to fall on deaf ears and with a look on their face which says "thank you for the insight, but what do you know about it?". So I decided to vote with my feet and just walked out. Of course, I'll give them another chance another time, because I do want to support local retailers.

So here's the point. Complaining about the defection of customers to the internet does no good whatsoever. All that does is avoid the responsibility of doing anything about it. The retail market has changed, and high street retailers have to find ways to compete with the internet, whether that be on the high-street or on the internet themselves.

It may be inevitable that high street retailers can't compete on price. But who wants to compete on price anyway. So here are five things high street retailers can do:

1. Get the basics of customer service right, such as having the products that customers want in stock.

2. Being on the high street has many advantages over the internet, not least the level of trust you can create. One of the biggest challenges internet retailers have is building trust in customers. Take advantage of this and use every opportunity you have to build trust in your customers.

3. Capitalise on the tangible benefits you can bring to customers that the internet can't, whether that be convenience, immediacy of delivery, expert knowledge, personal interaction, ability to try things on in different sizes, shapes, colours, materials, personal guarantees or any number of other ways in which real value can be added.

4. If you can't beat them, join 'em. Get retailing on the internet. You don't even need you're own website. Why not combine the benefits of the internet with those of local retailing? Online purchasing with in-shop pickup or personal delivery? Remember you may need a different sale proposition online than in-shop; you may want to differentiate between the two businesses and even offer different product lines so you're not competing with yourself.

5. Make every visit to your shop or outlet an experience that your customers will never forget and will want to hurry back and experience again. You can't get this online.

Stop complaining about customers defecting to the internet, and take responsibility for competing more effectively. Easy to say, harder to do, but what is the alternative?

Sapphire Coaching specialise in boosting personal productivity and help to build stronger businesses that deliver more to their owners. To request a complimentary business health check and to find out how much more your business is capable of delivering to you schedule a face-to-face meeting online. To find out more, go to

Source: EzineArticles
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