Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Click, Click, Ca-Ching!

We had an interesting dinner table conversation the other night about the fact that, these days, you have almost no need to go into a retail store with most anything being able to be bought online.

If that’s the case, for those of you with a physical retail outlet, why are your customers still shopping with you?

I polled our readers and found out the reasons they still shop retail rather than online with the common reasons being:

- Immediacy (for those who can’t wait for the postage time)

- The ability to touch something, try it on, poll friends / family for their input

- Impulse buys (the purchase you make when you didn’t know you were going to!)

- And finally - service

I recently purchased three books for my husband and went into a great bookstore in my local area – Petrarchs to do so. Upon reflection, I purchased this gift in that store for all 4 of the reasons above. Firstly, the gift occasion was 3 business days away, so I couldn’t have been sure (where I live) that delivery would get me the gift on time. Two of the books were large coffee table style books, so it was great to flick through them and touch them first before purchasing. The third book I added to the present was a complete impulse buy. The staff at Petrarchs always seem to offer great service – I had a lovely chat with the chap who served me about his new child (very close in age to mine), the proprietor made a few jokes and while I did the rest of my errands they gift wrapped everything after first finding out whether to use a more masculine or feminine gift wrapping.

Do I buy books online? Absolutely – lots of them. But when I choose to buy them in a physical store in my hometown – Petrarchs is my first port of call. Why? Their selection and most importantly, their service.

As good as an online bookstore is, it’s unlikely I’ll ever engage in the jovial banter I have with the staff at Petrarchs. An online outlet may be able to offer gift wrapping, but will they question whether I want it for a male or female?

While it’s unlikely you’ll ever get your hair cut online, where you choose to buy your hair spray from is another matter altogether.

If you sell a physical product that can be bought online, ask yourself why your customers are coming to you in person. What can you do to further protect that custom in the future?

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By Kirsty Dunphey with 2 comments


An interesting perspective on the retail vs online debate Kirsty. However, would you agree that large retailers still do need to innovate or risk losing out on price wars?

Harshit, Thanks for your comment. I think EVERYONE needs to innovate!


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