The retail landscape has changed dramatically in recent months. The introduction of Spanish fashion chain, Zara and the recent announcement of Topshop to our shores has diluted the market with Australian retail giants Myer and David Jones both announcing major annual losses. But that aside, the recent threat to bricks and mortar retail is the growth of e-commerce or online shopping. E-commerce and associated m-commerce (mobile shopping) has sent traditional retail into a spin, but how do you integrate this new phenomenon into your current business model?
We asked Sameiko Landry, group digital manager of Witchery and Mimco Group, to give us the low down on this modern phenomenon before she gives her business seminar this weekend at Fashion Exposed on the topic of `Understanding how to integrate e-commerce into your business’.
We hear the term all the time, but what does e-commerce mean to you?
For me, it really just means online retail. Ability to sell product and/or services on your own branded website or as part of a 3rd party site.
Why is it so important for businesses to understand e-commerce and more importantly to integrate it into their business?
Customers are no longer happy to sit back and wait for their favourite retailers to catch up. They’re incredibly savvy and they demand the ability to buy when they want, where they want on whatever device they choose. It’s up to us as retailers to enable our customers to interact with us as they wish to. For businesses with bricks and mortar stores, understanding e-commerce is of course important but really the goal should be integrating beyond just e-commerce and towards a truly multi-channel service.
What are some successful examples of e-commerce in the marketplace that you could share to explain its importance in every business?
Surf Stitch is a site I’m really impressed with. It consistently ticks all the boxes of best-practice e-commerce. The caliber of communications and customer fulfillment sites like net-a-porter and mr porter always provide sources of motivation! Australia is definitely going through a very exciting time at the moment. Within the next 6-12 months, we’ll see even greater changes in online retailing. I’m really looking forward to us all mixing it with the big overseas players.
How can they tailor e-commerce to their specific business? Is it a matter of hiring an expert or something you can learn and teach yourself?
I think you can absolutely learn the basic principles yourself. However, e-commerce is not generally a part-time position. It requires buy-in and consistent management from key departments including; planning, supply-chain/logistics, marketing and IT. If you can hire an expert then fantastic but there are also some amazing consultants that can assist on an ongoing or project based arrangement. Even just to prioritise what’s required from the outset. The best thing about online is that it’s measurable. Testing is so important and takes the guessing out of decision making.
Is this a vital tool in avoiding financial woes in the current economic climate?
Customer fulfillment is critical so if you feel you can service your customer beyond their expectations then e-commerce should absolutely assist. An online store is not a set and forget arrangement. If you don’t enhance your offering regularly, before you know it, you’re playing catchup.
As a speaker at Fashion Exposed this month, what are you looking forward to most at the show? And why is it an important platform for retail and buyers?
I’m just excited at how the industry is transforming and I think every year the show reflects this. It provides such a great opportunity to learn and meet new people in a time where everyone is so incredibly busy.