Why are Aussie retailers still falling behind online?

Australian retailers are being told to pick up their game if they want to compete in a global retail market.frustrating online shopping1

A recent article quotes a QUT Academic who believes ‘overseas online sites are using social media and customer incentive schemes better than the current Australian online marketers, and are therefore experiencing stronger growth.’

Considering more than 50% of Australians are shopping online (Roy Morgan Research) that’s a phenomenal amount of market share our retailers are missing out on if they aren’t e-Comm equipped to capture them.

But why are we falling behind? how can we catch up? And how long will it take?

Tim KrotirisDirector of Social Media Servants, Tim Krotiris, who has been working closely with fashion retailers to get them online, says we shouldn’t be shocked about the current statistics.

As a guest speaker on the topic of `How social media is evolving retail’ at Fashion Exposed next month, we asked for his thoughts.

Here’s what he had to say;

“Retailers in Australia should not be shocked by current statistics and the rise in the adoption levels of e-Commerce. These trends have been identified, documented, predicted and heavily debated over the last decade. We are now seeing momentum kick in.

As customers become more and more comfortable with new technology and online transactions, e-Commerce will continue to rise. Today we are in a very interesting period, we believe a perfect storm is about to occur. The next generation of IPTV (Internet TV) is set to become the standard issue in 2014 and completely new wearable technologies such as Google Glass will seamlessly integrate consumer’s lives like never before.  Online and offline will be completely integrated all day, every day.

On top of this, the next generation of customers who are now in your target market have disposable income and have only ever known e-Commerce as their first purchase point. If you haven’t figured out how to make e-Commerce work for your brand, you are in for some real challenges.

The great thing for traditional retailers and local e-Commerce sites is that the decision to adapt, change and revolutionise your business has been made for you; you either make changes now or you will disappear tomorrow. Waiting is no longer an option; the market is evolving and we must catch up.

Since the industrial age we have seen technology changes shake up industries consistently. This is neither rare nor uncommon, it’s simply an industry lifecycle and this one is no different. Evidently, these periods in history are littered with evidence of smart, innovative and courageous businesses using change to transform and thrive. For some businesses, this represents the opportunity of a lifetime, while others find it too difficult to change.

So why are local retailers falling behind? Why do we see such a gap?

Customer connection is the key to the future of retail. Social media has allowed businesses to connect and be a part of their customers’ daily lives like never before. The great retailers use every on and offline mechanism they can find to connect with customers.  They constantly look to increase customer service levels and additional value.  They try to better understand individual buyer behavior and predict who, why and how they will purchase. They digitally look to create a customer experience that rivals the best instore experiences in the world. They simple create this digitally.

Local retailers have felt a lot of pain in recent times because they have been too slow to adapt. Social media and digital connection mechanisms used by overseas stores to create a prominent market position are not seen on the same level locally.

Unfortunately, we witness local retailers both on and offline applying what we call the ‘Field of Dreams’ principle. That means they open a store and believe that, “if you build it, they will come”. This is simply not the case.

If local retailers want to catch up, take back market share and thrive in tomorrow’s retail environment, they must go back to the drawing board and start to dissect the way they will connect to customers. It’s no longer simply about transaction, it’s about constant connection, daily customer service and attentiveness between purchases.  You must play a prominent role in your customers’ lives.

The fact is simple: customers will no longer accept mediocrity as a brand position.  Only the businesses that are committed to connecting and making their customers’ lives better will survive. Product will simply not be enough of a differentiator.

So how do you change this? The fastest way is to first decide the role your business is going to play. How can you help your customers daily? What will you bring to their lives? How can you do it better, smarter or more creatively than anyone else? Once this is decided, you can seek out the technology to help achieve this market position.

If you are able to get this right, your business can take its share of the growing ecommerce market. Just remember, the game has changed; customers now have infinite choice and mediocrity wont cut it.


Good luck.

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