Businesses must utilise the online world to capitalise on their niche

By Michael Hechler

We are currently seeing the aftermath of entertainment chains HMV and Blockbuster going into administration, only a short while after electronics retailers Jessops and Comet suffered a similar fate. This follows news that UK consumers spent more than £1bn on downloaded films, music and games in 2012*. To get their share of this online marketplace, businesses need to better adapt their routes-to-market to align with the ‘always-connected’ consumer.

The fates of Blockbuster, HMV, Jessops and Comet have shown that what is drawing customers to stores is shifting. This is not to say that there isn’t a need for brick-and-mortar stores, but it does mean that the types of customers – what they’re looking for and the services they require – are significantly changing. Most notably, as the online world has become an integrated part of everyday life, so too must it become an integrated part of comprehensive sales strategies. Simply having a brick-and-mortar store or a website is not enough.

Rather than revolutionary changes, companies need to focus on evolutionary changes. Re-evaluating why customers choose to go online or shop in brick-and-mortar stores is the first point of call. By understanding the drivers behind this choice, businesses can create multiple touch points across a variety of channels and devices, to lead customers through the decision-making process.

The ultimate goal of an integrated online and in-person store experience will be to add value to each shopping method, and provide a truly seamless user experience across channels, where online, mobile and in-person purchases are mutually reinforcing. Increasingly consumers are using a variation of devices for browsing and purchasing, and it is critical that companies can deliver on all platforms to a consistently high standard. In the wake of the news about HMV, Blockbuster, Jessops and Comet, businesses need to find ways of harnessing their online power, while offering something unique to customers shopping in their brick-and-mortar location.

Below are top five tips to optimise a multichannel route to market:

1. Optimise websites for tablet and mobile viewing – convenience is becoming increasingly important, and it is best to limit applications that can hinder load times, and to minimise scrolling

2. Present a unified front across multiple marketing channels – shoppers are switching between devices so make sure you give them a familiar service, irrelevant of the device

3. Segment your customer base – tailor deals based on where shoppers make their purchases

4. Quickly engage customers and hold their attention – don’t turn off shoppers with complex navigation or complicated checkout processes

5. Deliver an exceptional experience to every customer – be consistent and exceed expectations whether it be price comparisons or displaying preferred partners

* http://www.eraltd.org/info-stats/overview.aspx   

About the author

Michael Hechler serves as Digital River’s Senior Vice President and General Manager Physical Commerce Group (PCG). In this position, he is responsible for managing Digital River’s business with manufacturers, predominantly in the consumer electronics and high-tech industries. Daily, Michael and his team of global experts help manufacturers shape and build multi-channel and direct-to-consumer online growth strategies. Today, Digital River powers thousands of global e-commerce storefronts, generating approximately 45 percent of Digital River’s sales outside the United States and fueling billions of dollars in worldwide sales for its clients.

About the company

Digital River, the revenue growth experts in global cloud commerce, builds and manages online businesses for software and game publishers, consumer electronics manufacturers, distributors, online retailers and affiliates. Its multi-channel commerce solution, which supports both direct and indirect sales, is designed to help companies of all sizes maximise online revenues as well as reduce the costs and risks of running a global commerce operation. The company’s comprehensive platform offers site development and hosting, order management, global payments, cloud-based billing, fraud management, export controls, tax management, physical and digital product fulfillment, multi-lingual customer service, advanced reporting and strategic marketing services.

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