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Lessons For Bricks and Mortar at Online Retailer Conference

Last week I attended the Online Retailer Conference and eCommerce Expo held at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre. Speakers and retail experts from all over the world gathered over four days to share their wisdom. As the conference wrapped up, it turns out the big messages for online retailers are just as applicable to bricks and mortar.

I spoke at a Future Proof workshop on how to build an effective content marketing and social media strategy. There was very little in my talk exclusive to online businesses. What surprised me most was how much of the advice shared was relevant to traditional retailers even if they don’t have an ecommerce component to their business. Here are the key take-aways from a very enlightening week.

Your customers are online even if you aren’t

John Debrinct from eCorner shared a statistic from Roy Morgan research on the first morning of the conference. By 2014, more than half of all retail sales will either start or have an element of online in it. Think about the implications of that for just a minute. Even if you’re not running an ecommerce element to your business, your customers will be doing research and looking for information online. You need to have a great website and a lot of good content to help inform shopper decision-making because it’s not all happening at the shelf-edge. 

 

Responsive design is a necessity

The biggest news of the conference was the importance of responsive design for your website and online content. Why? Consumer behaviour has changed dramatically. Consumers are doing their own research and they’re looking online for information. Mobile usage has overtaken desktop browsing with more people doing internet searches on their phone or tablet. If your content is not mobile ready, you’re going to lose the attention of your customers and prospects.

Australia is mobile crazy

It turns out Australians are particularly fond of their mobile devices. In fact, Australia leads the world in mobile commerce growth at a whopping 42% according to an infographic from Perception Systems. 

Consumers want a seamless experience

Many speakers echoed the sentiment expressed in our post about the problem shoppers have with retail. Consumers don’t care about your store operations or how your business is siloed. They specifically don’t respect an organisation providing a different brand experience in different channels. They expect your brand to be represented the same way regardless of where they engage with you. If your online and offline properties look different and behave differently, you’re going to lose a lot of business. And, yes, that applies to your shelf-edge tickets and in-store promotions.

What this means for retailers

More than ever before, the shopper is in control. Whether you’re a bricks and mortar retailer, an online retailer or both, consumers are driving the customer experience. If you don’t have an online presence, you’re missing out on about half of all the people shopping. If your online content is not mobile friendly, you’re also losing out. If you haven’t been able to present a united front between your online and offline store operations, you’re losing the hearts and minds of your shoppers.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry. The consensus at the Online Retailer Conference is Australian retailers have a long way to go before they’ve effectively married the online and offline brand experience. Don’t hesitate to contact us at SignIQ if you’d like some ideas on how to present your brand on your store ticketing.

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