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The explosion of e-Commerce and m-Commerce to meet the ever more exacting demands of today’s customers can be a daunting prospect. How do we even find out what online customers want? Won’t selling on apps reduce my footfall? Isn’t it very expensive and complicated to set up? Each of these is a valid concern but all have simple answers.

It goes without saying that customers want convenience. As a society we are becoming more impatient and impulsive; with On-Demand TV, instant messaging and social media, retail has been the snail in the race. In comparison, traditional e-commerce seems almost Victorian: I am talking about 3-4 day delivery from across the country and parcels being thrown over fences. Some lucky customers can even pick a 4 hour time slot in which the courier might arrive but they still have to wait around at home for a man in a van to thrust something at them (and hurry on to the next delivery.) This is no longer good enough! Customers want more. They want a better, more convenient online experience. Understanding this has been instrumental to the success of online giants such as Amazon, ASOS and Net-a-Porter.

Common myths surrounding on-demand retail

The first great myth is that selling with On-Demand services will impinge on your footfall. This is not the case. Those customers who have time to come to your shop, browse, explore and purchase will continue to do so. From our experience purchases are attributed to another category of shopper. The best category – the NEW shopper.  On-Demand services work to put your products in front of new customers. Those that are yet to discover your brand or too busy to reach your shop. Furthermore, every time a product is collected from your shop, that delivery person is also a potential customer. They themselves may see something they like and purchase. So for every On-Demand sale you are actually reaching two new customers. It’s a win-win.

The second misconception is that setup is expensive and complicated. This certainly does not have to be the case. The costs typically come as a CPA – a commission based on actual sales rather than any membership or signup fee. With regards to the technical setup I can only speak for Urb-it where we need just name, price, description and an image to get you started.

Encouraging book on a counter-top, Photo by Jeff Sheldon on Unsplash

So what can you do?

Well, keep doing what you’re doing. Keep creating beautiful products, a strong brand, a personal customer experience. Just extend this personal service online. When a customer comes into your brick and mortar shop you meet them face to face, build a personal relationship, an understanding of what they want and suggest products to suit them. The problem with e-Commerce is that you lose this personal interaction, the ability to engage directly with the customer. This is why the last mile and fulfilment has become so critical. It becomes their lasting impression of your brand, so make it personal.

We, at Urb-it, hold the customer experience sacrosanct – nothing is more important to us! Our customers buy online or through our app from their favourite retailers. They choose exactly when and where to receive their shopping with our green last mile. They are met by our trained eco-couriers called Urbers who, having travelled across the city by bike or public transport, bring the in-store shopping experience to your customers – putting a smiling face and personality into the last mile. We work with our retail partners to personalise each handover, learning about the brand and the products they sell. We can then promote them online and within our community.

Written by Frederick Killander, Business Development at Urb-it.

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