Feature

The Beauty of Online

Bricks and Mortar versus online? There is simply no such thing anymore. Times are a changing and believe me it’s only for the better for everyone including the traditional retailers. Let me explain why.

phoebe_soloPhoebe Garland co-owns Garland & Garland Fashion, along with Robert Garland who was described by Ragtrader as a “veteran ragtrader” with over 30 years experience. Between the two of them Phoebe & Robert Garland have over 45 years sales experience. Garland & Garland Fashion is a leading fashion agency based in Sydney representing women’s fashion labels targeting the 30+ market. Garland & Garland Fashion is regularly sought for comment from various media on business fashion issues.

 Last year I received an email from a customer all the way in UK looking for an Australian label we represent. The label they were wanting is not sold anywhere overseas only in Australia. And whilst attending Rosemount Australian Fashion week this year and waiting to go into a show, we started chatting to a retailer who was visiting from the US. She had flown all the way over especially to see the Australian talent. She mentioned to us that Australian labels were THE flavour of the month and she was getting hot demand for them. Interesting……….

While we hear that retailers are being undercut from online stores overseas due to much cheaper prices, it got me thinking. With this feedback about Australian labels being in hot demand, it has opened up a glut in the market for Australian retailers to provide the rest of the world product that is not available overseas. Retailers cannot compete with some imported labels on price, so why not reverse the situation and offer a point of difference by providing products, which customers overseas cannot get in their own country. Has there ever been a better time to start promoting Australian labels to the rest of the world?

1Online is simply the way of the future for smart retailing. Minimum overheads and no paying overinflated rents, plus it gives you the flexibility to work wherever you want anywhere in the world. Until you become as large as say Net-a-Porter.com and need to employ a lot of people. But let’s face it you would be hardly complaining. Why wouldn’t any retailer embrace this method? Let’s imagine you open an online store in conjunction with your bricks and mortar store and you market it properly through social media and digital marketing and it becomes such a success it does more business than your bricks and mortar store. Would you not rethink paying a landlord thousands in rent, working 7 days a week chained to your shop and making minimum profits?

Now like anything, setting up an online shop is not just a matter of setting up a website and the sales are going to flood in. You need to market it properly and you need to provide excellent customer service, fast response to email queries and have excellent images of your stock. Plus free shipping is a must, be smart and build this into your margin and the consumer will not know the difference. One etailer/retailer doing an outstanding job is http://www.birdsnest.com.au. Owner Jane Cay, has built an impressive online business. With a bricks and mortar store in Cooma and faced with only a population of 8000, they have had the foresight to build an empire online, in conjunction with their bricks and mortar shop and now employ over 45 people. Smart operators.

2The question of wholesalers supplying only bricks and mortar days are over. There are some powerful online retailers that buy as strongly as bricks and mortar and don’t discount. The Internet doesn’t have to be just about discounting, it can just be an extension of your traditional business. Faced with this question…will I supply an online store? My answer is, yes I will, as I believe they have exactly the same business as bricks and mortar operator. There is no such exclusivity for the ‘World Wide Web like there is for suburb-to-suburb exclusivity. It’s something every retailer should be embracing to even out the playing field and introducing Australian labels to the overseas markets and growing their business.

Whilst there will be still a demand for traditional retail methods, I do worry about some retailers not even giving it a go or even worse complaining how bad business and then not doing anything about it. It is incredibly naïve to think your customers will not buy from the Internet, especially if it’s a brand they know well and understand the fit. There are some very strong Australian brands out there, which would retail exceptionally well online. Retailers need to embrace this change and stop being the victims in the online world. Let’s look it at another way…did we imagine in the 1970’s we would be sending emails, surfing the internet, and buying bottled plain water to drink?

As always very interested in your thoughts.

Email us: info@garlands.com.au

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