Irish Retailers need to prepare for the ‘new normal’.
Use your downtime to plan for the future
“Covid 19 and the near total lockdown of our local economy has forced retailers to recognise the gap in their growth/survival strategy.” according to Dave McEvoy, Director of Dmac Media, a Sligo based digital media company.
Currently, non-essential retailers’ doors are closed with no income and no clear end in sight. Those with an online offering have been able to trade whilst still following public health guidelines. The public are demonstrating in large numbers their willingness to support local providers by placing their orders online. Those without an online store are now vulnerable but is it too late to address the shortcomings?
Dave McEvoy says,
“Let’s face it, by the time businesses address the gap between themselves and their more digitally active competitors the crisis will have likely moved beyond quarantine and any online offering may look like too little too late. Having said that, what we have seen across the globe is a seismic shift in behaviour to online purchasing. People who never before considered shopping online are now actively doing so, losing their fear of it, and will most likely continue to shop on line in the future. Many of these new ‘on-liners’ are opting to shop local. Businesses who want to survive need to act on this goodwill.”
Regardless of the duration of this current crisis we are going to see a greater number of consumers opting for the convenience of online ordering and home delivery. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar alluded to this in his St. Patrick’s Day National Address when he told the nation to prepare to do business differently in the future. Businesses need to make strides now to prevent further loss of revenue when we get back to the ‘new normal’.
Dmac Media is recommending that retail businesses take the following steps to survive the new normal.
1.Choose an ecommerce platform or provider
2.Select a payment processor
3.Get the product mix right
4.Invest in Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC)
5.Spend time on local Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Social Media
Choose an Ecommerce Platform or provider
There is the option to go it alone and pick a platform that is simple to setup and use by a moderately tech-savvy staff member. Shopify is the weapon of choice for DIY enthusiasts.
If businesses opt for a professional developer choose one that has some ecommerce experience in your industry or, at the very least, retail ecommerce experience. A website should last between three and five years. Perfecting the platform is a long game that a good web developer will be able to assist with.
Get the product mix right
An average high street store has thousands of product lines to choose from and will struggle to get them all uploaded to their new website. Dmac Media recommends that stores connect their website to their Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) system to marry instore with online. Focus on products that have margins and are popular as a priority.
“In your first 6 months make sure you spend time and effort on products that have enough margin to absorb the costs and enough popularity (selling well instore) to give you early returns online. The key here is to recognise that not all products are created equal.”
Invest in Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising
Google Ads, Google Shopping, Facebook ads, Display Ads, the list is endless, can be a minefield to navigate. PPC is the one area where Dmac Media would advise against a DIY approach as ‘it is too easy to lose money’. Seek the help of someone with a track record, good recommendations and agree real key performance indicators and make sure that they are being delivered.
“I cannot emphasize enough how many fly-by night options are available in the PPC space so tread carefully. Dave advises. “PPC can be a tough nut to crack without some genuine skills in that area. Social Media and SEO are a lot more accessible for a beginner.”
Spend time on Local SEO and Social Media
Search Engine Optimisation has one principle at its core ….. ‘Google likes unique, relevant information.’
The more unique information (content) about the topics (products or services) the more likely Google is to rank a website and deliver traffic. Whilst SEO is quite complex, if businesses use this as a guiding principle, they won’t go wrong.
For Social Media, the advice is to post regularly, answer customer questions and show the human side of your business (staff members, behind the scenes, etc.). These are simple principles. If retailers engage with them and, most importantly, get started, they will be moving in the right direction.
Irish consumers have been forced online in greater numbers than ever before and the eventual lifting of social restrictions does not guarantee that they will be willing to give up this newfound convenience. They want to support local, they want to buy Irish, so let’s make it easy for them. See: www.dmacmedia.ie for more in-depth analysis.