Most retail businesses are aware that the consumer market continues to shift away from bricks and mortar stores to online platforms. Although this is a change that most have seen coming for a long time, some businesses have still not fully embraced this new way of operating. Shopping and consumer behaviour is all about the experience, and developing your online journey and the experience your customers have with you digitally, can only help to solidify the future of your organisation in an e-commerce space.
So, what are the benefits of an e-commerce model in your retail business, and how can you get to the place you need to be to be able to put your organisation on the digital map?
How e-commerce can boost your bottom line
E-commerce propositions ultimately provide an extra sales platform from which businesses can engage with their customers. Not only will it act as an extra sale platform, online stores will likely become the biggest standalone store when compared to their individual bricks and mortar stores. This is due to their ease of access and 24-hour availability, enhanced marketing reach, and extended choice.
These facts combined with consumer shopping habits changing, people being busier in their work and social lives, or being put off by busy high streets will drive more shoppers to embark on their online shopping journey. The instant access e-commerce proposition provides customers with a far more successful shopping experience and ultimately provides greater customer conversion opportunities for retailers.
Why SMEs should adopt an e-commerce model
With the high-street landlords significantly increasing rents and stores becoming less and less profitable, it is essential that SMEs adopt an e-commerce model. It will, of course, take a significant investment to put together a credible site, partnered with savvy marketing. However, the growth opportunities, as well as the domestic and international reach of the brand, can be enhanced dramatically as a result.
Relying solely on a handful of stores is expensive and can ostracise potential customers, depending on location, resulting in the brand being unable to maximise its potential. These are not the only benefits of a well-performing e-commerce platform, it can also add significantly to the bottom line by improving profit margins on products sold through direct-to-consumer (D2C) platforms. As you can imagine, this would come at some effort and cost, not least by employing specialists to set the e-commerce platform up, and will not see immediate profit as a result.
E-commerce should be seen as an essential investment to future proof your business in an increasingly digital retail space. SMEs should also look to develop an online market place offering early on. For example, partnering with Amazon and eBay. As even though this will eat into the margin, it will help to improve your exposure whilst you are able to build a credible D2C proposition.
The skills you will need to get ahead
There are many different types of professionals that can help to fuel the implementation or expansion of your e-commerce model. Here are some of the key skills that you should be hiring:
- A senior management professional with previous implementation experience in a multi-channel retailer.
- Someone who has experience in both the e-commerce marketplace and D2C environments, who can develop tactical quick wins, whilst also building a sustainable and robust long term e-commerce strategy.
- Hiring consultants on a short-term basis to help build and implement a long-term strategy.
Hiring a long-term employee who can be involved in the strategy and understand the vision and plan from the outset, as they will be tasked with the long-term delivery.
Ideally, the professionals that you are recruiting would have an e-commerce background. However, there are skill sets that can be transferable from different job roles. People who make strong e-commerce candidates need to be customer focused. Ultimately the goal of the e-commerce platform is to optimise sales, able to adapt to customer needs, wants, and behaviours. They also need to be able to merchandise the site effectively, ensuring that best sellers are front and centre, making the customer journey as slick as possible, while recognising pitfalls in any of the processes so they can be fixed and the journey improved. In order to do this effectively, you will need to combine this customer-centric behaviour with great analytical skills and attention to detail to ensure that the site is ever-evolving based on facts and figures.
If you are interested in hiring top e-commerce professionals to your organisation, please get in touch with one of our specialist recruitment consultants today. Alternatively, submit a job spec, and we will call you. You can also benefit from creating a MyPage account, to make use of some extra useful features.
Buying & Merchandising Specialist, Michael Page Retail