Four ways high street retailers can improve their online offering

Retailers: failing to translate the strengths of their offline operations online
Retailers: failing to translate the strengths of their offline operations online

The latest market intelligence report from Stickyeyes shows that the digital landscape is changing within the consumer electronics sector and reveals some of the key opportunities on which marketers should be capitalising.

How the digital landscape is changing

Click and collect services are helping traditional high street retailers fight back against the dominance of online brands, according to new research into the consumer electronics sector.

The research, published by Stickyeyes, has found that retailers are failing to translate the strengths of their offline operations online but, by placing a greater focus on consumer-facing content, brands could significantly enhance their digital presence.

Phil McGuin, head of insight at Stickyeyes, sets out four key market opportunities that could help high street retailers enhance their competitive position online.  

1. Click and collect is not the only service opportunity

Amazon is the most visible online brand, thanks to a large presence for most of the major consumer electronics products within the market. Amazon is the go to place for the digitally-savvy and cost-conscious consumers, which has put traditional retailers on the defensive. Coupled with a naturally high cost base, this means that these retailers are having to reduce operational costs to remain competitive.

Click and collect is one weapon in the high street's armoury, as it gives consumers a way to overcome the frustrations of home delivery and allows retailers to minimise their exposure to the millions of pounds spent on missed home deliveries.

While click and collect is helping high street retailers to remain competitive, it’s not the only service panacea. Click and collect also provides both opportunities and challenges for marketers to adapt their service offering, allowing customers to access reliable, expert product advice.

This expert advice can be provided online, but retailers must ensure that they continue to attribute these customers to their in-store operations, where both the experience and service can be controlled and tailored to the needs of the individual customer.

2. Adopt a holistic approach to online marketing

The online market is highly competitive, with a diverse range of brands all jostling for premium real-estate within the search engines.

However, marketers can achieve a competitive advantage by partnering with many of the product review sites that now occupy many of the prime search positions within the sector. According to the research, review sites accounted for 13.78% of the overall organic click-share across the ten biggest markets within the consumer electronics sector – and this figure is forecast to grow.

Product review sites are a cost effective route for retailers to become visible for highly competitive keyword search terms, in a way that would otherwise not be feasible through the usual search engine marketing techniques.

Moreover, review sites provide retailers with a genuine third party analysis, allowing them to build loyalty and trust around their products and their brand.

3. Understand the purchasing goals of your customers

Purchasing motivation within the consumer electronics market is invariably driven by a need to achieve a particular goal, or combination of goals, but often customers don’t know how, or what products are needed, to achieve that goal.

Customers genuinely want to know why the next model up is better than the one before, but many retailers are making this information extremely difficult to find.

Whether it is to create the ultimate home cinema system, connect two laptops to their wireless broadband connection or find a freezer that won’t keep clogging with frost, customers are invariably looking to advice that will guide them on the quickest, easiest and invariably most cost effective way to achieve this.

This was always the key selling point for bricks and mortar retailers, who were available to offer in-store advice to help the customer achieve their goal, but traditional retailers have been slow to translate this service to the digital landscape.

Customers genuinely want to know why the next model up is better than the one before, but many retailers are making this information extremely difficult to find – or concealing it completely.  It is essential that marketing managers take control, get to know the purchasing motivation of their customers and deploy product content that supports every step of the customer journey.

4. Future proof your products with digital content

'Customer lock in' is becoming the future of electronic retailing. Tying your customer to your product for the long term is the latest challenge for retailers, having seen the likes of Amazon and Apple achieve this with their digital content offerings.

Through the use of the Kindle, iTunes and AppStore, Amazon and Apple have both made a concerted effort towards the sale of content, rather than technology. In these instances, the Kindle, iPad and iPhone are merely delivery mechanisms.

Other brands are rushing to join the party, with Tesco releasing its own tablet device last month with others bound to follow.

This changes every aspect of the digital landscape and marketers now need to look at all elements of their online channel activity to remain competitive, including search marketing, social engagement, the customer experience that they provide and their service proposition. 

It is no longer just about the product, but about the content that is delivered; its quality, its relevance and how it differs from the competition. 

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