Your customers are changing retail. They are changing how they browse and how they shop and this is changing retail. They browse and shop when they want on their phones or iPads, from their beds, in their offices, on the street and even in-store. They often share what they’ve bought online with their friends and where they have bought it from. Over 26 million people shop online in the UK and over 50% of smartphone owners are using their phones to shop.
So what does all this change mean for independent retailers?
Firstly, it is a huge opportunity for them. Secondly, retailers will have to embrace technology to truly shine. For many this is the scary part, but it does not have to be, indeed it can be quite simplistic. After all consumers are embracing technology and it is this symbiosis of ‘consumer’ and ‘technology’ that are driving these changes.
Retailers Need To Be Active In Social Media
The days of indies having a store and an ecommerce site and these two being sufficient are ending. Why? Firstly, because consumers use their phones to browse and make purchases online. If retailers don’t have a mobile ecommerce site (m-commerce) then consumers will simply browse and buy elsewhere. Have you tried navigating a traditional website on your phone and then looking at one optimised for a mobile phone, the latter is so much easier. Secondly, retailers need to be active in social media – Twitter, Facebook and so forth. Having a Facebook page and Twitter account is not enough they have to be used regularly and retailers have to build their audience. There are some really simple tactics for getting customers to follow you on social media. Such as, offer customers £1 off the total of their purchase on your ecommerce site if they ‘like’ your Facebook page or follow you on Twitter.
Research has shown in the past year web-based email usage dropped a staggering 59%
Social media is critical, it’s how many consumers communicate with one another. Research has shown in the past year web-based email usage dropped a staggering 59% among 12-17 year olds, who prefer to communicate via text, instant messaging, and social networks. Now 12-17 year olds probably aren’t your primary customers, you may think, “So what? They’re just kids.” But web-based email usage has been on the decline among ALL internet users under the age of 55. And by the way, today’s kids are tomorrow’s customers — and they’re probably not going to be reading your email – have social media is critical to the success of today’s ecommerce sites.
EPOS systems are a great way to control the store, the ecommerce and all other multi-channel activities
How do indies control their store, ecommerce and social media? A good starting point is an EPoS system that seamlessly manages stock, store and the ecommerce site(s). A good system should allow retailers to also sell stock through eBay and Amazon. But more importantly they should come with social media applications. Examples of this include the ability for customers to share what they have bought with their friends online and the ability to create ‘wish lists’ from your website and share with friends and family on social media, ideal for birthdays and other special occasions.
Retailers need to remember that consumers don’t see stores, e-commerce, m-commerce, epos systems: they don’t distinguish between a retailer’s different sales channels. They think about shopping, products, service, convenience, price. A good system will combine the store, ecommerce and social media so retailers can seamlessly manage all their channels whilst giving the consumer a seamless shopping experience.
This blog was written by Cybertill Retail, who have grown from startup to major provider of retail EPOS systems. They work with many smaller, independent retailers and understand the differences between smaller businesses and major chains. For more about Cybertill see http://www.cybertill.co.uk/