Despite the online retail landscape becoming more cluttered than a dusty antique shop, Chris Tantchev stresses there’s still space for the niche retailers get a coup on the bigger players given the snail pace the traditional brands have taken to digital.
“Traditional Australian retailers have been slow on their transition to digital and their online strategies and experiences are still, for the most part, broken,” the founder of online book subscription company Bookabuy (pictured above) said. “There is enough of an opportunity and consumer hunger for niche marketplaces, micro-brands and tailored experiences which will allow smaller retailers to exist and flourish.”
Still, he doesn’t deny the overwhelmingly large quantities of businesses online, and share of voice is still a struggle.
“Share of voice in an increasingly crowded online retail ecosystem is one of the biggest challenges,” he said. “Gone are the days of simply running a few banner/search ads and hoping for the best.
“Today’s online retailers must continually find more intelligent ways of representing their brands to their customers. Maintaining service quality is another big ticket item in maintaining a positive customer experience – both through their online interactions with brands, as well as how their transactions translate offline, fulfilment, dispute resolutions, follow up.”
And, as with everything these days, personalisation is key.
“Customers are big on tailored experience and even just a small personal touch can make a big impact,” said Tantchev. “Intelligent personalisation plays a big part in our service, and we see it as one of the current drivers in online retail space.”
The notion of maintaining a bricks and mortar store for a brand is debated – we’ve recently seen the Australian Geographic Retail shop intending to shut its doors, the ABC shops closing down and tech giant Dick Smith’s physical presence becoming kaput only to resurface online.
Still, despite not having physical stores, Tantchev said there’s still room for these places.
“There is still definitely a place for real-life retail experiences,” he said. “It really just depends on your strategy as a retailer, and how you want customers to experience your brand. Businesses ultimately need to embrace the fact that consumer behaviour and customer experience are becoming stronger than ever, and tailor their retail strategies accordingly.”
Tantchev and Mel Tantchev (pictured above) will be presenting at the Online Retailer Conference & Expo next week in Sydney. If you’re a keen retailer or marketer, grab some tickets here. Tantchev’s session will look at how you start and manage online retail businesses, and what you need to get customers.