Retail – the interface between offline and online

Andreas Schneider head of management, Retail Network Services for the Valora convenience brands operating throughout Australia, Switzerland, Germany and Luxembourg says it is “dangerous” for a retailer if people buy goods just because they happen to be nearby and not because the store is their destination.” He said retail is the interface between offline and online.

The Touch Systems e-retail Forum focused on the change from the industrial to the digital era.

From industrial to digital era

The seismic shift from the industrial to the digital era has changed all the rules about sales and retailing. It means ‘mass’ is breaking down into ‘niche’ because technology has opened up so many possibilities; anyone can ‘open’ an online store, sell products, publish a blog; no longer are vast amounts of capital necessary to set up many businesses and trade internationally.

Speakers at the Touch Forum on e-retailing in Melbourne in March emphasised that a retailer cannot ignore the digital tools on offer.

In fact one speaker announced he would not work with anyone without a digital strategy because they will fail.

The Touch Systems e Retail forum outlined the amazing possibilities of digital communication, marketing and payment options and their application to retail will vary according to the products on sale. For newsagents and convenience stores, with mostly low-value transactions, digital presents many opportunities to link online and offline and provide solutions for customers.

What can newsagents learn from this?

Online needs a physical presence and a ubiquitous reliable network of small business outlets close to where people live, is the way to do it. The new directions and services of Valora convenience brands match those of the new services forward thinking newsagents are offering – parcels, money transfer, bill pay/financial services, gift cards.

Valora changed its business to remain relevant and to provide solutions for its customers.

The challenges faced by the Valora brands are similar to many we encounter in Australia as print and lotteries have an uncertain future.

The advantage Valora has is a strong head office to develop strategies and technology, do large scale buying, category management and also to ensure compliance

Newsagents in Australia have the network – which is a positive; it is non-compliant which presents problems in rolling out nation-wide solutions.

Newsagents in Australia have industry Associations to bring together the many parts and add strength to the whole

The lesson is to get digital FAST, use the technology and data to find out more about your customers and what they want; make it easy to transact online.

Retailing today is about relationships—online and face-to face.

For a full report to get you thinking and acting – see National Newsagent magazine in May.

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