Why E-Commerce Website is The Future
The Future of Retailing – the Bricks-and-Clicks model of E-Commerce Website
Consumer expectations are rapidly changing, and to remain relevant, retailers need to change too. In the past decade, e-commerce has experienced astonishing growth rates and will continue to be promising for the years to come.
Reports show that the global e-commerce is expected to reach 1.4 trillion by 2014, growing at a fast rate of 14% from 2012 to 2016. Several key trends driving this growth are: the growth of internet access, consumers feeling more comfortable purchasing online, rise in demand for global products, increasingly flexible international shipping.
Despite the rise of e-commerce start-ups in the past decade, many industry experts say that majority of the sales are still taking place offline.
The future of retail is to adopt the Brick-and-Clicks model, which is to integrate e-commerce with Brick-and-Mortar store to create an Omni-channel retail experience.
Hence, the key to success lies in how well each platform can complement each other, creating a unique proposition to shoppers. Many major E-giants have already hopped on the Brick-and-Clicks bandwagon, including Google, Zalora and Taobao etc.
Let us now look at how e-commerce can complement the Brick-and-Mortar stores and vice versa.
Drive more traffic
Some feared that setting up an e-commerce website would cannibalise sales from physical stores. However, more often than not, an e-commerce website would help to reach out to others who are not yet your customers, especially international customers from around the world.
Likewise, a physical store would be able to draw customer who chanced upon their store while passing by to shop online.
A physical and online presence would put a retailer in a good position as it could take advantage of the synergy of having a Click-and-Mortar model to enhance shopping experience and increase brand loyalty.
Setting up an e-commerce website is much cheaper and cost-effective compared to the premium prices for high-traffic retail sites, without even adding in the ever increasing labour costs.
Even after factoring in site design, maintenance, 24/7 technical support and other operating costs, it will still be significantly lower than the storefront leasing expenses.
Cost savings from lower inventory level
Unlike your traditional brick-and-mortar store that has to be fully stocked to better serve its customers, an e-commerce website can sell items which are not even readily in-stock.
This eliminates the need to support additional manpower to constantly stock the shelf to create attractive presentations.
Special orders can be placed upon customer’s order and this can help to save on storage and inventory costs. Moreover, stocks can be stored in a low-cost warehouse as compared to a premium priced retail shelf.
More product choices for customers
Most retailers understand the fact that the ability to offer customers more product choices will lead to a better shopping experience and in turn better sales results.
However, limited by shop size and space, brick-and-mortars stores are often restricted in the number of products they can carry and offer.
The most cost effective way is to display the main products with a couple of more popular colours and leave the rest of the colours to be available online for ordering.
On the other hand, Striking a balance is the obvious solution and a rule of thumb would be to remove older products when you introduce new ones to prevent your product variety from hitting the sky.
Increased brand loyalty
A report published by Deloitte in 2014 shows that customers these days fancy mulit-channel shopping. With a touch of their mobile devices, customers can do research on the product they are intending to purchase and compare prices almost instantly.
They like to feel that they are in control of the information and product knowledge and are able to exercise better purchasing decisions.
Hence, an Omni-channel shopping experience not only help to enhance customer satisfaction but also increases sales as customers who engage in Omni-channel shopping tends to purchase more frequently and spend more.
Brick-and-mortar retailers fear the store they invested with high labour and rental costs becomes a showroom for E-commerce retailers.
On the other hand, e-commerce website retailers understand the one big advantage that brick-and-mortars retailers have over them: providing the customer with the feel and touch experience.
Zalora did well to enjoy the best of both worlds by bringing its e-commerce website to life by opening pop-up stores, aiming to create a seamless shopping experience through multiple touch points in a stylized and modern retail environment.
Offering convenience to customers
Do you prefer to hit up the shopping malls, fighting for scarce parking lots and braving through the crowded?
Or would you prefer to shop anytime 24 hours a day from the comfort of your own home? More and more people are shopping and spending on digital platforms, giving brick-and-mortar retailers a miss.
Hence, it is very important to note that customers who shop online are often people who value convenience a lot more than your average customers.
Keeping in mind that all your online customers have limited time would be a key consideration when designing and developing your e-commerce website.
Make sure you accept credit cards and other common forms of payment. Also, make your check-out process as easy as possible to reduce shopping cart dropout rates.
Products should be searchable by keywords to ensure easy site navigation.
These will provide the customer with a smooth and pleasant shopping experience which will encourage repeat purchase.
Click here to find out more about website user experience (UX).
Cost-effective and focused marketing
Having an e-commerce website sales platform will effectively help you take full advantage of low-cost online marketing which includes email marketing and social media marketing.
Think about it, would it be easier to send an email to your customers and encourage them to go to your physical store or click a button and go to your e-commerce website to make a purchase?
Therefore, online marketing methods have been proven much more effective if coupled with an e-commerce platform.
Furthermore, emails and offers can be customized to an individual customer, meaning it would be more relevant to them and increases the chances of them opening it and click through.
In order for traditional brick-and-mortar retailers to survive, they have to fully make use of the advantage they have over e-commerce website players by turning the physical store from a liability into an asset.
E-commerce website holds the promise and challenge of affecting every aspect of the business, from sales to warehouse space and other business operations.
If harness correctly, it can become a perfect complement to the physical store and vice versa to serve new markets and new customers.
Want to know more how a good e-commerce web is made up of? Watch our free video here.