The two-speed consumer shopping economy
Monday, September 24, 2012/
This week Appliances Online reached a shopping milestone – being the first retail outlet to offer 24-hour Australian-based customer support, 365 days a year. If someone needs to order a replacement fridge urgently at 3am our locally based customer support team is on hand to answer any questions a consumer might have on any of our products, and to organise delivery at their convenience.
This coincides with Appliances Online’s extended warehouse hours. We’re also trialling Saturday delivery services to make life even easier for working couples and busy families who might not be able to be at home for a two-hour window during the week.
Although we’re the first online retailer to offer this immediate 24-hour Australian-based support service in Australia, we anticipate that 24-hour shopping will eventually become the norm.
The ‘now’ shopper demands to search for what they want, where they want, when they want, and get it at a price that is fair value globally. Better yet, consumers should expect the product to be delivered the next day.
Online businesses should be fully equipped to support the changing needs of the ‘now’ shopper. Online retailers who are willing to try new ways to make shopping a fun and rewarding experience will see the pay off.
Yet the paradigm shift which has created the ‘now’ shopper has also created a two-speed consumer shopping economy.
On one hand, online retail is the ‘sexier’ of the two retail experiences – like a new sportscar, it’s new, shiny and exciting, allowing consumers more opportunity to dictate their own experience.
Yet the traditional retail experience still remains how the majority of Australian consumers shop and this Volvo-esque safe experience cannot be ignored in favour of its flashy cousin.
Despite the tremendous growth of opportunities offered by online retail, there remains a high demand by people to walk into a store and touch products rather than reading about them in product reviews. Opportunities also remain for retailers who are willing to go above and beyond for each person who sets foot inside their store.
Our Winning Appliances stores are an example of a traditional retail outlet that still holds a significant place in the shopping economy, even if its year-on-year growth is steady (off a 100-year-old base) rather than exponential.
Despite the enormous growth and opportunity for retailers who can service the ‘now’ shopper, we cannot just ignore the needs of the traditional shopper. We are responding to the increasingly busy lifestyles of Australians at Winning Appliances by extending our store opening hours from 8am-6pm to allow people to shop before and after work.
While there is a world of opportunity for retailers to challenge themselves in their quest to impress every customer and communicate with the needs of the ‘now’ shopper, we mustn’t forget the slower, safer retail experience, as this is still how most Australians shop – at least for now.