Alongside Brexit, Donald Trump and Love Island, the thing we hear the most is the depressing conclusion that the high street is dead.
When you take a stroll through St Peter Port, or any high street in the UK, it is difficult to argue with this theory. Where once busy and successful shops used to trade, we are now left with empty premises and optimistic ‘To Let’ signs. It’s a tough time for high street retail, but it may not be the doomsday that is often publicised. The threats are obvious and yet we see very little being done to tackle them. Instead, there seems to be an acceptance amongst shopkeepers that their time has come and gone.
The biggest of all the threats is the emergence of online shopping. In Guernsey, local retailers are struggling to compete with might of Amazon and co. If we consider the benefits of using such online stores, we can start to think about what we can do to compete.
There is an assumption that everything you buy online is cheaper than if you buy it in store…
Online shops are not always cheaper, especially when you take into consideration delivery costs (or even Prime membership) plus the cost of any returns. Local retailers may not have the buying power of Amazon, but they do have the benefit of no VAT and no additional charge for delivery. Local retailers need to assess their margins and undertake extensive competitor reviews to understand how much they can afford to charge before they simply price themselves out of the market. Gone are the days where Guernsey was a captive market and retailers could charge whatever they liked.
Browsing a large online store is convenient. We can shop whilst watching television in the evening or waiting for a bus…
Local shops can also offer out-of-hours browsing, with the additional convenience of same day purchasing. The online space is not only for Amazon, there is no reason why local retailers can’t have an online presence. Offering a ‘click and collect’ service means that not only are local stores equally convenient for browsing, but they can be quicker and cheaper (no delivery cost) to purchase from. In addition, returning an item is vastly more convenient to a local store.
The likes of Amazon are a one stop shop… they sell everything that you could ever want…
35% of all product searches start on Google. This means that 35% of all shoppers have not decided where they want to buy something from, they just know roughly what they want to buy. Local retailers with an online presence can take advantage of this through digital marketing strategies, such as paid ads etc. If you compete for local search traffic and showcase the products you have for sale, there is no reason for the customer to shop off the island.
Large online retailers have spent millions on making the shopping experience as simple and as easy as possible. ‘One click purchasing’ and ‘saved card details’ all add to the experience…
Regardless of your budget, local retailers can build an online shopping experience that can compete with the big players. Platforms such as Shopify and Magento offer solutions for businesses of all sizes. Multiple payment options are available, including PayPal, Amazon and Apple. As well as offering an online experience, local retailers have one very important advantage: face-to-face service. Combined with a strong online presence, the power of good old-fashioned customer service should never be underestimated.
Here at Clicksmith, we believe that local retailers can not only survive, but flourish. To find out how we can help your business begin the fight back, get in touch today.
Posted in: News