Are traditional retailers killing your brand online?
f you’re a manufacturer or supplier with a network of independent retailers selling your brands and products to consumers, you’ll be well aware of the trend towards e-commerce. Indeed, e-commerce online sales now account for approximately 20% of all retails sales in the UK, a four-fold increase over the last ten years.
The relationship between your brand and the consumer is therefore changing fast. For years, manufacturers and suppliers have focussed upon securing a high quality retail network, based upon good store presence, trained staff, product placement and visual merchandising. However consumers are no longer in these stores, they are online, in market places and browsing the web.
Many manufacturers and suppliers have resisted the transition from bricks and mortar to online sales by restricting accounts to retailers that have a physical shopfront. But whilst these retailers may have the experience to run a successful, traditional shop, this knowledge does not translate well to e-commerce, which requires a completely different skillset.
Technical web development skills aside, ‘merchandising’ an e-commerce store, communicating with, and selling to your online customer is a completely different ballgame. Paired with shipping logistics, returns, online price matching, customer service queries, instant chat, live stock control across multiple channels, payment gateways and international sales, and a traditional retailer is completely out of their depth.
As a brand owner or distributer that has traditionally been concerned about brand/product placement and visual merchandising, it’s completely disingenuous to select retailers based on physical store presence, rather than the quality of their website and e-commerce experience, as you loose all control of how your brand is displayed and promoted online.
Who is best placed to sell your product online, who will ensure your brand is well represented with quality information, photography, product video and depth of knowledge, supported with good customer service, quick delivery and a technical team that understands the value of good online customer experience? The e-commerce experts. The ones with little or no, physical retail presence, the ones who concentrate on doing one thing well - selling online.
The market for your brand and products are online, on eBay, Amazon, Google Shopping and e-commerce websites. 98% of buying processes begin online, with consumers researching their purchase, carrying out price comparisons, reading reviews and watching product videos on YouTube, often at 9pm in the evening. It is at 9pm that detailed product information, product videos, guides, brand trust and awareness really matter.
If you’ve been focussing your retail network on those with bricks and mortar shops and experience, you are going to be left behind.
As a brand owner or distributer, instead of asking a retailer how much in space and branding you will get for your products in their shop, ask how they will market your products online, when they will be promoted, which videos you will be included in and on which platforms. Above and beyond this, engage with them, support them with providing lots of product information, offer to help with video or written product guides and reward them for pushing your brand. None of this requires big marketing budgets, it’s about content marketing; in other words, providing valuable information to build trust and brand awareness.
You absolutely do need to choose a retail network carefully and by all means, don’t ignore physical retailers. But don’t base your choice of online retailers by physical store presence, or years of investment in your brand will gradually be eroded through bad online retailing.
If you're looking for an e-commerce agency to develop a website for your business, combined with a comprehensive digital and content marketing strategy, get in touch!