This article was originally written for and published in National Newsagent Magazine.
Whilst it was written for newsagents, it applies equally to most indie retailers seeking to embrace a digital future.
(Click through on the image for a PDF version if you want to download/ distribute it to other interested party.)
Morgan Stanley estimates that eCommerce sales will double to more than one TRILLION dollars by 2016. And it won’t stop growing either.
You can choose to be part of it, as long as you are realistic and smart about how you go about tackling the opportunity.
It really important to understand that 4500 newsagents won’t start and won’t succeed at simply creating a digital mirror-image of their existing business.
In order to tackle the opportunity we have developed a 5x5x5 strategy that covers the short- and medium term.
5 Things Newsagents should NOT do or believe
1. Myth #1: An online business is cheap to run.
2. Myth #2: All you need is a website and off you go.
3. Myth #3: My key to success is to replicate my offline business into an online version
4. Myth #4: An online business is easy money – you make money while you sleep.
5. Myth #5: I won’t be affected by online retail.
5 Things Newsagents can do immediately
1. It is a constant learning process, because the technology is changing. Attend seminars, subscribe to blogs, subscribe to newsletters, engage consultants, ask your coach and buy books. However it is you learn, target these topics even if you feel uncomfortable about it now. (eReady Partners is scheduling quarterly updates that many will find useful.)
2. Start your Twitter account. You don’t have to say anything, just listen and learn.
3. Stake your claim on the social media sites and platforms to ensure you own your brand/ domain name as soon as possible. This includes at the very least: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, Tumblr, your blogging CMS and Youtube. (Here is Wikipedia’s list of top social media sites.) You can use NameChk, to see if your username/ brand name is available on most sites in a single glance. You may not use all these sites immediately, but at least you own your real estate.
4. Get your Google house in order, including claiming ‘authorship’ on Google for your blog, your Google Analytics account and so forth. (Having a free GMAIL account is very useful around the net and I use one to subscribe to newsletters instead of my business email. Google is SUPERB at keeping spam at bay, and it is much safer to use that email for (what could be) dodgy website subscriptions.
5. Make sure you have a simple, static website at the very least. Put your ‘SHOP’ button on it too even if you don’t have an online shop. Give customers a ‘coming soon, give me your email to be advised when we launch’, message and TRACK the number of clicks. (That is a basic way of testing interest in your offer.)
5 Things you can do in the medium term
1. Make sure your existing business (your platform) is operating efficiently and effectively. This means that you should continue to promote your existing business, support exiting products and control your expenses.
2. Pick the product you want to promote online. You could for instance use the GNS platform (www.yourlocalstationer.com.au) to set up in that space with a ready-made solution.
3. Evaluate the appropriate partners and suppliers that could supply your desired product. Not all suppliers are created equal.
4. Think about your retail mix: E.g: Pricing: What will be the effect of offering online products below the RSP in your agency? How will these prices be harmonised? E.g: Promotion: How will you do this? What expertise will you need? Address all elements of your retail mix (the 6 Ps) in your plan.
5. Allocate resources: ensure it is properly financed and the key players know what must happen.
We stated clearly that creating a digital copy of your existing business is not the way to go for the vast majority of newsagents. Running an online business is quite different from traditional retail and new skills and new systems and new strategies must be learned if you choose to follow this path.
All that remains now, of course is to just do it.
Ganador supports newsagents via News Limited’s NewsPartners program to embrace the future. (Newsagent Entrepreneurs Winning Sales – Partners.) Dennis can be reached on 0411 030 436 or dennis (at) ganador.com.au.