Most online retailers get the product right, the customer experience right, but struggle to acquire new customers which is, too often, ultimately their demise.
That’s the view of Julie Mathers, the founder of Sydney-based online organic/vegan cosmetic firm Flora & Fauna.
Mathers will be speaking at the upcoming B&T-sponsored Online Retailer Conference & Expo in Sydney on the 20-21 July and parting tips on how to get your brand to stand out in an increasingly crowded market.
“Customer acquisition is the never-ending battle for online retailers and it is cause of the demise for many,” Mathers told B&T.
“There are so many online retailers in all spaces and so many start-ups that it’s difficult to convince customers to shop with you and to be different enough to acquire their business.
“Retailers often end up playing the price game, which is a very short battle, and not one I’d recommend. Customer acquisition is not simple and there is a long game here; it’s a beautiful courtship, which has to be nurtured to result in a fabulous marriage.”
One way to retain and recruit customers online is through personalization, Mathers said, where customers get the final input into their look, feel and design of their product.
Also, getting the content around your products and site right is essential. “Customers crave content and lots of it but it has to be relevant, authentic and endorsed by their peers, friends and sources they trust. The power of social has never been so great when used in the right way. You need to inspire your audience. As a retailer you cannot simply push product anymore but you have to invest in content and create unique content regularly,” Mathers said.
Although a fan of the online-only model (“Online retailers are generally nimble and can make things happen quickly so that is a huge win over the big players”) she’s not completely against bricks and mortar, too.
Naturally, a store comes with huge costs and they need to be in the right spot which is a “science in itself,” Mathers agreed.
However, there are retail options for those with small budgets. “Establish what the barriers are to not having a store and if you can overcome those by having a pop up store in a bigger retailer or in a highly trafficked location so you really sweat the investment. It’s also a great opportunity to connect with your customers and test the brick and mortar concept. (Custom designed shoe store) Shoes of Prey have done a great job of doing this,” she said.