The Threat of Online Gets Bigger and Bigger

Online-Shopping-1I have spoken a few times about the challenge of online sales to the traditional bricks and mortar (B & M) stores. The growth of online sales continues to outstrip B & M stores growth and shows no signs of slowing down. Recent data shows online sales growth at 10.6% is more than double that of bricks and mortar – source NAB Online Retail Sales index 3.3.16

Most retailers are embracing both methods of selling to their customers and they have to get both right or run the risk of losing customers. Some retailers however offer just an online model and they are posing a massive threat as they look at better ways to connect with their customers and provide an overall experience.

Most online retailers provide live chat 24 – 7 as a way of dealing with customer’s issues. They are also getting a lot smarter at recognising when a customer is having trouble navigating on a particular page and proactively contacting the customer before they click away. I’m sure there are many more innovative ways coming soon that will make the entire online experience much more pleasant and a lot easier for us to buy.

I read an interesting article recently about a company in the US that fulfils prescriptions online. They take care of the transfer of the details from the B & M pharmacy, ship product to the door every 2 weeks (or how often you need it) and contact the doctor when it’s time for refills. Nothing too amazing here, but they have gone the extra step to connect the online experience with a human touch. Included in the first shipment was a hand written letter which started the connection and after one month a phone call to check that everything was ok, any questions etc.

This simple process ticks off the following things that I believe our customers are looking for:

  • Please make it easy for me to buy from you (deliveries on time every 2 weeks)
  • Have the product when I need it (as above)
  • Make it easy for me to keep buying from you (automatic refills in the above example)
  • Make it a personal experience (hand written note, phone call after 1 month)
  • Provide an exceptional customer experience (all of the above)

My challenge to any B & M retailer is – how do you rate against these five points above? Based on my own personal experiences, point number 5 is at best sporadic. Unfortunately I very rarely walk away with a great feeling after experiencing exceptional service.

If you are not focussing on providing an exceptional experience every time, then beware not only your competitor down the road but the dreaded online retailer too.

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.