Online Retail – if it’s not part of your offering, it should be

Online retail has become such a way of life and expectation for consumers that it’s almost impossible to think of a time when we didn’t shop this way. Online sales continue to do well during the current pandemic we are facing and reports of Primark sales falling from £650 million per month to zero confirm to us just how important it is to have an online retail offering. Reports published by the ONS state that although retail sales have fallen sharply since the start of the crisis, online sales for March reached a record high of 22.3%.

In the case of Primark, it’s difficult to understand why they didn’t have online retail in their business model, perhaps they just didn’t need it. Their stores were always busy and they were one of the few stories in recent years of retail business who were continuing to thrive on the high street and weren’t facing the same issues in declining sales which some of their competitors were. Then the coronavirus pandemic struck and overnight, sales fell to zero.

Primark are a large company, who I would expect will be able to weather this storm but for other, smaller, independent retailers who didn’t have an online shop – what should they do to try to survive?

Smaller, independent shops might think moving to online is too daunting a prospect to even think about and will wait it out until they can reopen their stores. Reopening won’t see them return to pre-pandemic sales levels right away with limited people allowed in stores, social distancing measures in place and a return in consumer confidence. How long will it take for us all to relax and be confident when out and about in public? Stores will need consumers to be confident of safety before footfall will return to previous levels.

Uncertain times call for the ability to adapt. I would never want to see the high street shops and actual face to face interaction end (I can’t wait to get back to my favourite shops) but in the meantime, adaptability will be key to ongoing success and that’s where online retail needs to be a part of future business plans for all retailers.

Some have been quick to recognise that if online wasn’t there before, it should be. Our recent case study for Dickson Chemist displays how quickly this can be implemented. It doesn’t even need to be full stock to begin with. An online store can be up and running in a matter of days with some key items and can then be built further with more items.

There’s no doubt that online retail had already established itself in the retail world and for the foreseeable future will continue to dominate. There’s no sign yet of stores opening any time soon and we don’t yet know what social distancing conditions will be attached to being able to open. Web design and development needn’t be daunting if you’ve not done it before either. It can be a smooth process to go from store only to store and online.

If you’ve found yourself with a store and no online shop, contact us and we can have you up and running and back in business quickly.

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