It was announced today that Argos are about to restructure or close around 75 of their network of stores in the UK as they are now taking one third of their revenue from online. Now to those of us in the industry, this isn’t a surprise and in fact, there’s an argument to say that perhaps it should be even more.
Their research has identified that people like to go round the shops with a smart phone or a tablet, find the item they want or need and then check the price on their mobile device using the Argos website. If it’s cheaper, and in stock they are then reserving the item online before wandering round to Argos to pick the item up. Does this sound familiar to you? Are you that kind of shopper?
Last week we saw a presentation by Google which shows that this type of shopping is now becoming the norm and buyer behaviour has changed with the advent of mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets. In fact against a generally poor economic climate, e-commerce actually increased by 22% in the first half of the year and is set to grow by a larger amount in the second half of 2012. Add to this that over £8bn of sales were made online last Christmas alone and you can soon see why this is such an important area for any online retailer.
The current prediction is that by mid 2013 access to the internet will be greater on mobile devices than on desktop computers*, and although the usage will vary throughout the day, there’s no doubt which way this is heading. EE announced yesterday it’s new mobile 4G tariffs, promising a five times faster online browsing experience to users on the move so the point is arriving very quickly when there will be absolutely no need to use the desktop or laptop to place an order.
And when everyone carries the power of comparison and purchase in their pocket then retailing in the UK as we know it is changed forever.
So, how do you ready yourself for this oncoming change? Well, first of all, do something. Something is better than nothing and frankly doing nothing is not an option.
Secondly, make sure your site is configured for mobile. If it’s not then people simply won’t use you, they’ll go elsewhere.
Thirdly make sure that your products are easily accessible. That sounds simple but the majority of e-commerce platforms almost build in inaccessibility, forcing the customers to jump through hoops just to find the product they want.
Fourthly, ensure that the on page user experience is simple and intuitive. Far too many online shops are just too hard to use. Every day over 70% of online baskets are abandoned before checkout, so make sure your site isn’t one of those suffering that way.
And finally, if all this sounds like a lot of work let us reassure you it is. It’s no different to owning a shop on the High Street in that you need to make sure it is stocked, the stock is well displayed, the shop is clean and tidy and well lit, the staff are helpful, people can check out easily and their shopping experience makes them want to come back time and again to visit you and recommend you to their friends.
If you find any of this surprising, confusing or daunting then our last suggestion would be to consult a professional. There are many good firms out there who understand e-commerce and SEO and can help you maximise the returns from your shop. Our team have years of experience in this environment and will be happy to help should you need it.
Aqueous Digital are a Digital Agency offering SEO, PPC Management, Web design and build and secure hosting, as well as Digital Strategy consulting.
*Mobile device usage throughout the day – Source Google data 2012