By John Horkan.
Drones delivering parcels in South Africa, American retailers closing thousands of stores across the country, M&S closing all stores outside UK, China’s top 50 retailers sales dropping by -2% in 2016 - the common link is a changing consumer and Online Retailing.
On Singles day, 11th November, the biggest shopping day this year, Alibaba sold $1 billion worth in 20 mins and had a total of $17billion for the one day. While walking through an American mall this week (note. a third will close in the near future) one store was packed while every other one was quiet. Why? They are doing things differently. Apple was delivering Experiential Retailing. The role of the local store is not gone but it is changing, the old days of putting stock on shelves and expecting the consumer to come and get it won’t work in the future. You need to offer more, it need to be an experience which is of value to your customer. In Holland, the no 1 external market place for customers is China with people buying directly from the manufacturer. Why? Because they can and it costs 30% less. Loyalty to the local market has a price. We have gone global and global has gone local. The barriers to shipping everywhere are falling down. We're in a consumer driven market place and the old rules have changed. Mercedes and Star have developed a driverless van with mini robots for automatic home delivery. 1hr deliver in the UK major city’s, Parcel motel and Anpost Delivery boxes are common place in Ireland, These solutiosn are changing the way products are getting to the consumer. The last mile is getting sorted.
Middle Americans voted Trump in to make American great again and they blame the Mexicans for taking all their jobs. The world has changed and are we are looking in the wrong place and blaming the wrong people. David Puttman on the new RTE program Making Ireland Click stated that 75% of the jobs we will have in 15 years time have not yet been created. Is he right?
As the current owner of a three generation retail business I am seeing a greater change in retail in 5 years than in the 100 years my family has been in business. The challenge is to continue to change our business so it is relevant to the consumers in the ever changing marketplace rather than wasting energy blaming others if we are no longer relevant. Online/digital is having a profound impact on how people live their lives and this is driving a change in behaviour in how people shop. Irish consumers spend €7.5 billion each year. But over 65% of all online purchases in Ireland are carried out with businesses outside Ireland we have a job to do to catch up. There is a real opportunity for Irish business to play their part in this online commerce and not only target the Irish consumer but also look to a British and European marketplace of €510 billion to generate sales. Black Friday is estimated to top $100 million this week in Ireland and it great to see a lot of local retailers offering strong deals to attract customers to shop locally. A strong trend of ROPO (research online and purchase offline) along with click and collect are also new ways that customers are using to spend their hard earned cash with local businesses but many business have not taken the step to introduce ecommerce into their business. 88% of Irish consumers research on line before buying a new item. If you are not online then they are not researching your business.
It is never too late to get your business online and there is a lot of help in your local community to get started. The first step is calling into your local LEO office. There are supports and networks to help local business move online and they are only too willing to help. Take advantage of the digital voucher from LEO which offers up to €2,500 in support. As a good friend of mine said to me a few years ago “Don’t wait till you have it all figured out, start early and learn as you go along”. This is good advice for any retailers or business looking to be relevant to this new digital savvy consumer. We now have a worldwide market place to trade which has never been more accessible. Creating a better future is about improving our quality of life while been able to earn a living. With the growth of digital commerce we have a wonderful opportunity to combine both while living where and how we want.