Red Zebra Business Centre - Management Memos
September 2012 Making Measurably More For Your Business Since 1985! Page 1
Time to Think About Trading On-Line


ontrary to a widely held view, on-line retailing does not mean the end of the customer service stories we all like to tell. Differentiating our selling offer by the service (or services) we provide is still very important - and the retail outlook makes it all the more imperative to do so!

Time to Get  A Handle on Multi- Channel Retailing

“Australian retailers have failed to put sufficient emphasis on the value proposition to capture the customer in different stages of buying..” comments retail expert Tom Frazier.

Frazier continues: “I believe the focus here needs to be on empowering the customer... I believe it is the unique proposition in each channel to capture a customer during that moment of the sales funnel,” writes Frazier.

“Most people shop on-line and in store. Pre-shop is mostly on-line and (consumers) often compare when at a physical store. Sometimes those roles are reversed with a great item found in a store that translates to a search on-line for a bit cheaper or in a different variation (like colour).”

“You have customer facing staff so provide excellent customer service. You have footprint so use it primarily to sell not to show racks of inventory that doesn't interest me.

“Focus on getting customers in the door through a unique experience, under promise and then over deliver.”

Frazier shares a personal experience with Australian fashion retailer Farage to emphasise his point.

“One day I wanted to buy a shirt from Farage and it was out of stock. Fashion Shirt The woman in the store asked me if I was in their system and I said yes. She put a note about my enquiry in the account details.

A week later I got a call saying they now had it in stock - waiting in reserve with my name on it and (there was) no pressure to buy.

“I went back in with a friend and ended up purchasing another item instead and my friend bought something as well. Several days later I received a hand written thank you card in the mail from the very woman who assisted me both times and called me.

“Yes, you read that correctly a hand written thank you card in the mail with unique details about our interaction.

“Farage has proven to me that they understand the value (and cost) of customer service, the value (and premium) of the retail experience and how to engage me in true multi-channel: email newsletter about an item, website pre-shop, in store service, phone follow-up and physical mail.

“ALL retailers in Australia can learn a thing or two from my Farage experience and how multi-channel sales and marketing will deliver long term value through customer loyalty,” concluded Frazier.

From 'Inside Retail"

On-Line Trader Uses Service as a Differentiator

John Winning founded Appliances On-line five years ago with a laptop, a rented truck and a 1300 number diverted to his mobile phone.

Since then, the company has grown to become Australia’s largest on-line appliance retailer claiming a delivery reach to 98 per cent of Australia’s population and boasting the largest range of brands and stocks to be found on-line.

Between 2005 and 2011 more than 150,000 unique customers purchased from the company. The on-line retailer increased its customer base by 50 per cent and its total revenue doubled in 2011.

“We control each phase of the customer’s experience: from before the sale, through first contact, to delivery and beyond.

Winning cites three key tips for e-commerce success:
  • Listen to your customers at every opportunity. Customer feedback is tracked and analysed to detect issues that may be otherwise missed when feedback is looked at in aggregate.
  • Empower your staff - we encourage all employees be innovative and we listen to all our staff’s ideas, regardless of their position within the company.
  • Stay agile – no matter the size of the company, being able to adapt quickly to the changing e-commerce landscape and to embrace new ideas and technology is a necessity.

 “Being on-line doesn’t mean you don’t have to deal with your customers. In fact, we want to create loyal relationships that last into the next generation,” Winning said.

White Goods

Consumer Goods Retail Likely to Slow Over 2012-13

Consumer Goods Retail Revenue is expected to decline by 0.9 per cent per annum over the five years ending 2012-13.

The consumer goods retail industry will face a challenging market due to uncertainty surrounding future trends in unemployment and interest rates. Retail spending will also be affected by debate over the full effect of the carbon pricing scheme.

Growth across the consumer goods market will be negatively affected by a rise in the number of consumers choosing to shop on-line due to the vast product range, competitive pricing and lack of GST payable on goods purchased from overseas retailers.

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