As a retailer, you already know the importance of having a Web site. Maybe you already have one. Some retailers I talk to agree that they should “have a Web presence” but have not yet taken their e-commerce business seriously enough to take it to the next level. However, there is a change coming in the economic climate, and retailers who don’t invest in their Internet business are headed for a rough time.
Here are some quick facts to be aware of:
Many retail stores are forecasting lower sales in their brick and mortar establishments for 2008.
However, the National Retail Federation just published a forecast for e-commerce sales in 2008. They is up 17%, growing that sector to a little more than $204 billion.
Nielsen Media Research (the company that measures what people watch on TV) predicts that in two years advertising dollars spent on the Internet will exceed advertising dollars spent on television. It is actively restructuring its company to measure the Internet.
In addition, there are tons of consumer surveys that tell us that consumers prefer to look online first before they go to a store. They expect a store’s Web site to offer the same products as the store and in some cases even more.
Surveys also show that customers who purchase on the Web are more loyal. When they find a site they like to buy from, they visit it often and make repeat purchases at regular intervals.
What You Can Do About It
Okay, so we know the demand is there. Now, how do you prepare for it? How can you set up your retail business to win on the Internet? For many, this is a scary proposition. There are lots of horror stories out there about failed Internet businesses, runaway expenses, and confusing techno-speak that have many retailers thinking that they can never succeed online.
While there are no guarantees that your Internet retail business will succeed, the odds are more in your favor than you think. Typically the initial investment can be small, and there are more resources available to you today than ever before. It is no longer difficult to link your Web site to your point-of-sale system, and aside from a few start-up costs, you can be in business relatively quickly.