Recent research by Deloitte shows that not only is online retailing continuing to grow, the market is due to hit £25bn by 2010.
With UK-based Internet users increasingly looking online for cheaper deals and in many cases, a more convienient shopping experience, 46% said they have bought more items online than last year.
Retailers are employing new and innovative online business initiatives as a way to drive sales growth. However, although there is significant opportunity for retailers to increase sales by taking advantage of new technologies, “understanding that the business opportunities the Internet has offered retailers can be overwhelming”, said Catherine Moellering, executive vice president of Tobe.
Strategies that will have the greatest impact on top line growth:
- Treat the home page like a storefront window. Recognise it is the face of the brand and use it as a selling point, showing all features and enticing consumers to explore deeper into the site.
- Retailers must have a blogging strategy. Ignoring the blogging community gives anyone the opportunity to become the voice of the brand. Whether penning their own blog or sending product to influential bloggers, retailers need a blogging strategy to ensure their point of view is conveyed.
- Invest in new technologies to drive sales and marketing initiatives. From streaming video to smart phone apps, a number of new technologies can directly translate to sales. Educate consumers through streaming fashion shows and expert commentary, while marketing new promotions through mobile coupons.
- Test potential brand extension through Internet-exclusive product launches. The Internet is a cost-efficient way to test new product lines and gain immediate customer feedback before making the investment in brick-and-mortar stores.
- Utilise the Internet to take customer service to the next level. Leverage live-chat dialogues, online fit guides and personalised product recommendations to better serve customers and reduce cart abandonment.
- Build customer loyalty with a unique online selling proposition. A unique offering such as donating a percentage of sales to charity, matching competitor coupons, or providing year-round free shipping drives traffic to your site and makes your brand memorable.
- Stay connected to your consumer by offering online gift registries and wish lists. Use registries and wish lists to gain lifestyle information about your consumers and the people who care about them. Anniversary reminders sent each year make repeat gift purchases convenient and build loyalty.
- Reach your customers where they live online. Different consumer groups use the internet in different ways. Push beyond Facebook and Twitter to sites such as PopSugar, Tumblr and Delicious that are gaining traction with niche consumer audiences.
- Don’t take your eye off the fundamentals of search engines. While social networking sites are important for maintaining a connection to the consumer, purchases are more likely to occur through a search engine. Retailers need to continue investing in SEO and key word searches.
- Don’t underestimate the power of customer reviews. Consumers are more likely to make a purchase from retail sites that include product reviews. In-fact, sites that include occasional negative reviews are seen as being more credible than those listing only positive feedback.