Don’t believe everything they say about online retail

Would you believe, dear reader, that online sales in retail are actually starting to flatten out, dare I say it, even receding in some cases more quickly than a certain political leader’s hairline.

The explosive headlines of 400% growth marginally beating last month’s 300% growth for online sales might also be a thing of the past shortly.

Interestingly, online sales still account for less than 10% of our national retail sales, a significant number nevertheless. However, unless we have other issues, the idea of sitting behind a monitor or smartphone in a dark room doing all our shopping is, for the majority of us, actually largely unattractive.

No real coincidence is it that 18 out the top 20 US-based online retailers have physical stores and now we see Google opening retail stores, and so it goes.

Why is that?

Simply put – we like to touch and enjoy the experience. Generally, we like colour, stimulus, sound, smell, taste and experience when we go shopping. In fact, our RDG insights division conducts an annual Australian Retail Consumer Study and guess what we found?

Well, one insight is that well over 45% of consumers want that tactile experience. For them, the slash of a keyboard stroke, followed by the delivery of a brown parcel by some independent courier company does not add up to an exciting or even interesting retail experience.

Of course the bell tolls for those retailers amongst us whose retail customer experience is the same old dance of the living dead. For them, online is a threat. For the rest, it’s all about being a connected retailer open 24 hours to any customer in the world and, candidly, I wouldn’t believe anything else they say.

Happy ‘fit’ retailing.

Brian Walker is the managing director of Australasia’s leading retail consultancy, Retail Doctor Group.



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