Retail continues to be tough for Bricks and Mortar stores

retailRecent information released from the National Australia Bank’s (NAB) latest Online Retail Sales Index has seen online spending in Australia increase by 8.6% on the previous year to $15.6 billion.

Online sales are now equivalent to around 6.6 % of traditional retail spending, up from 6.3% for the same time last year.

While online retail remains dominated by those aged between 35 and 44, older Australians are also experiencing solid growth. Over 65’s have now seen positive growth in online shopping for 11 consecutive months, with spending rising a further 0.9% in July.

NAB chief economist, Alan Oster, said that “despite the recent pick up in the traditional retail sector, it was still being outpaced by the improvement in online retail growth over the past quarter.”

While online continues to grow at a higher rate than traditional bricks and mortar there is another major competitive factor squeezing traditional Australian retailers and that is the influx of global fast fashion retail giants (as reported by Inside Retail). There have been a number of these overseas retailers arriving on our shores with the most recent being Uniqlo and H&M, with H&M recently announcing they are also opening two stores in Sydney.

The rise of social media and online shopping has removed traditional geographic barriers and enhanced consumer access to global brands. Consumers are constantly exposed to the latest designer fashion from catwalks and the clothing worn by celebrities, bloggers and other influential figures therefore creating a demand.

So how do you fight back against online and these fashion giants? Inside Retail were quoted as saying “In response to intensifying competition, existing retailers are expected to shift their focus to customer service and in store experience in an attempt to generate sales and win back market share.”

This is exactly what we have been helping our fashion (and other) clients with over the past few years – we have long said you have to create an experience not a transaction. The opportunity is there to really wow your customers and give them a reason to come back. Most times this is not requiring you to do too much out of the ordinary. It certainly is getting the basics right, going the extra mile and being consistent all day every day. It is also maximising the opportunity with that customer who is in the store – much easier to sell them more than attract new customers.

It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, competition will only get tougher and customers will have more choice. What are you doing to ensure your staff are doing that little bit extra? Are they also offering more to your customers to increase the average sale and how well are they doing it?

If there is room for improvement we can certainly help!

Roger SimpsonRoger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Retail Solution” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service and selling skills.