Home About Us Services Articles & White Papers Useful Links Careers Contact
Consultancy Topics
Point of Sale
Customer focused retailing
Traffic counts, increasing conversion rates, and increasing the ROI on marketing initiatives
Retail Merchandising, Planning, and OTB
The journey of going on-line
Business Intelligence
Workforce Management
10-09-2014 - >>
Interested in technology futures? Some interesting links.
24-03-2014 - >>
Julian Josem has been appointed to the Victorian ICT Health Ministerial Advisory Council.
28-02-2014 - >>
ARTS (Association for Retail Technology Standards) has released V7 of its Data Model.
28-10-2013 - >>
Mozi Designs goes live with Pronto on time
31-01-2013 - >>
Link to 2013 NRF presentations
12-09-2011 - >>
Productivity Commission report links - Here are the links to the source materials - makes for interesting reading.
View All News
The journey of going on-line


Putting your business on-line is a journey that is becoming more and more popular with small to medium business owners.  And like a holiday journey, once you start to enjoy the trip, you realise there are so many more destinations that you can visit and explore.

Going on-line can have unlimited benefit – once you place your business inside this virtual world, you realise that there isn’t any limiting factor except your vision.  You can double the sales figures of your best bricks and mortar outlet, and once you have achieved that, you can double it again. 

Trouble is, like everything else that has such big rewards, it doesn’t happen all at once – it takes time to build, and you have to make a start.

Whilst the rewards are virtually limitless, the critical success factor for those starting out is the need for a business-led plan on how to best take this journey.

First, understand what going on-line really means to your customers.  We refer to the web as a channel – you will already have some established channels such as your physical store, a telephone service, and maybe even a mail-order service.

A retailer’s mission is about serving customers, and successful retailers will understand their customers intimately.  Before going on-line, you need to find out about the on-line preferences of your customers.  How  would they like to interact with your business?  How do they interact with other businesses? 

If you are like many retailers, you will have a number of customer segments, each with a set of different preferences.

Further, if you divide up your business into a series of product categories, you’ll find the same thing – different categories with varying characteristics that make it more or less sensible to sell via an on-line channel.

So here’s the thing – you have groups of customers (segments) and groups of products (categories) that you want to connect in various ways through various means (channels).  In other words, maybe without realising it, you already have the need to develop a multi-channel business. 

Our research tells us that customers who interact over two channels, on average, are 114% more profitable than those who transact over a single channel.  And those who transact over three channels are 40% more profitable over those who transact over two.

You don’t have to take the on-line journey – you can have a successful business without going on-line, but you need to recognise that your customers are changing as technology makes it easier for them to interact with you and your competitors.

When you examine the lifecycle of transactions, you can split them into searching, buying, and use elements.  A customer will use various channels to conduct the pre-sale research.  Then they might choose another channel to buy the item.  And once purchased, if they need some help using the product, or something goes wrong with it, a third channel might be used.

As a retailer, you need to understand your particular transaction lifecycle, mapping customer segment preferences with product category preferences, and determining a preferred channel mix that maximises sales and minimises costs.  Take an overall view, not a channel by channel view.  You need your channels to work together to help make a contribution to overall business performance.

So then you can begin to plan for the introduction of your on-line channel, making sure it supplements your existing channels, making a start on an evolutionary journey that promises to transform your business.

Your plans should map out the milestones that you intend to achieve.  They might look like this:

First stop – “Hey world – Look at me!”
An informational web site that publishes your business to the world.  It tells your customers (segments) that you too can communicate with them in the twenty-first century, and you are interested to serve them in ways that are tuned to them.

It’s your on-line shop window, and it needs to support your physical shop window.

How often do you change your shop window?  Well, once you have understood that you really and truly have become a multi-channel retailer, then you need to update your management culture to regularly change the shop windows for all your channels so they support each other at all times.

Use your on-line window to drive traffic to your store.  Maybe via vouchers redeemable in-store.  And make sure you keep track of what works and what doesn’t.

Here’s your first learning – whatever you do from now on, incorporate multi-channel thinking.

Your on-line shop window must have interesting information that is relevant to your customer segments that browse on-line. 

You will have begun to realise you need some software to keep track of customer details – their names, addresses, categories of interest, impending projects, their footy team, and vitally, their email addresses.

It is surprisingly easy to send your customers quality, interesting information via email.  You probably spend money on catalogues; divert a proportion of that budget to an electronic version.  Develop a real relationship with your customers by giving some insights to help them.  Your buying groups and suppliers will help you with this by supplying you material (if you ask).

Before you know it, your customers will be asking you to take them to the next stop on the journey.

Second stop – “eCommerce – Show me the money!”
One of the real pleasures in retail life is waking up in the morning to find more money in your bank account than when you went to sleep.  And finding out its reality rather than a dream is even better.

This is the stop in the journey that feeds extensions and side trips to destinations that you thought only the big-boys visit.  The secret they don’t want you to know about is that the web has unlocked access to every one of their customer’s wallets. 

In fact the research tells us that multi-channel customers are adept at buying from multiple, competing retailers.  The good news is that the early entrants have educated the masses.  It has become rewarding to trade on-line and it’s easy to steal market share – customers are ready to show you their money if you can satisfy their channel preference and product needs.  It’s certainly not just about price.

So, evolve your virtual shop window to make it convenient to spend money with you.  There are lots of learnings during this phase, but don’t forget the lesson you learnt before embarking on your journey to this stop – it’s a multi-channel journey.  Use the on-line store to drive traffic off-line, and now start using your physical shop to drive traffic on-line too. 

Its not hard to establish an on-line shop – the key point is not to treat it like a whole new shop.  When you decide to carry a new line, you need your systems to make it easy to decide whether or not you will sell it on-line.

Your suppliers have to provide you with more information than if you are not trading on-line.  As a minimum, you will need pictures in an electronic form for the items that you want to sell. 

The point is that you must ensure that your systems are aligned to your multi-channel strategy by sharing access to information.  This means Customer Relationship Management software, your Point Of Sale system, and your on-line systems must all be setup to minimise duplication of data entry, and to help you serve your customers efficiently across the channels you choose.

The key to getting this right is making sure you understand the business processes, and how the introduction of new systems might impact your multi-channel business.

If your previous technology decisions have not considered multiple channels, then you might have some technology refresh hurdles to overcome – but as they say, no pain, no gain.  There are lots of alternatives in this space, and you might need some guidance from external sources. 

Our experience is that the POS software vendors are not good at helping with the overall strategy and company needs, but are fine once you are both clear as to what you want from your systems and how they need to interact with other systems. 

Once you are successfully trading on-line, and this means your customers are satisfied with your ability to deliver the promise, then you can embark upon the third phase…

Third stop – Extending your reach
This is dependent upon your vision.  It’s an exciting world out there to explore, and far be it for us to prescribe your destination.  After gaining more insight into your customers, you may extend your other channels such as establishing a more comprehensive call centre that provides advice and also transacts in cooperation with on-line and physical channels. 

Alternatively, you might want to complement another local trader’s strategy.  Working with a furniture retailer, or a local tradesman, or an importer, or a community group, or local council, or who knows where the journey will lead with outcomes far exceeding your initial expectations. 

But you have to start with a plan.

Contact us at Josem Consulting to discuss your particular situation, and make sure your journey is as rewarding as it can be.



Home About Us Services Terms Contact Newsletter SiteMap