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Putting the online high-street first

The bricks versus mortar battle has arguably become even more heightened in recent months, with more big brand names closing their doors for good, not even surviving in online form. Maplin, one of the biggest brands in consumer electronics, recently closed its website for good and is left selling off all remaining stock in stores. 

It could be considered surprising that it’s not even continuing as an online only retailer given that the consumer electronics market was worth 17,776 million euros in 2017 – there is a clear demand for electronics tools and accessories. Despite the bad news for Maplin, make no mistake that the UK is still a market full of opportunity for retailers who focus on doing more of what they already do well. 

eCommerce before high street
It’s more important than ever for businesses to be agile and adaptable to compete in the fast paced, dynamic retail industry. It’s about delivering on promises and personality too; what makes people fall in love with your brand? It’s a fairly simple retail approach that we need to remind ourselves of. With that in mind, questions are expectedly arising around whether brands should continue with the same approach and focus on their high-street presence as before. 

From a reichelt perspective, the company was launched in the UK with the purposeful approach of ignoring the high-street all together and focusing purely on our e-commerce offering. This makes our 90,000 product portfolio available to everyone with the internet rather than limiting ourselves to customers in a store.

For companies with a broad spectrum of audiences, for example, across the electronics and engineering sectors, a vast number of products are required to cater to their needs – it simply wouldn’t be feasible to physically have them all on shelves in a high-street store. By focusing online, brands can meet the needs of both the consumer and trade audiences, whilst also having the scalability to be able to expand the product range. 

Robust online offerings
It’s important to make it clear which products are new in online every month, so customers can navigate straight to the latest technology for their needs. Such a large product range and wide audience means the online offering has to be robust and customers should be able to easily make decisions out of a lot of choice. If customers want, for instance, a new conferencing system, yes we offer typical brands such as Logitech, but we also offer top European brands like Konftel – and every single one has been vetted for quality before being added to our range, meaning our customers have reassurance and peace of mind. 
 
The Aldi approach 

Many German retailers have adopted a high stock, low price model. Pricing still remains one of the primary purchasing factors for customers. If you can find it cheaper elsewhere, of course the customer will buy from your competitor instead. 

There is an argument for dynamic pricing but this isn’t always the best approach. The pricing structure doesn’t have to be overcomplicated to make sure you are giving the customer the best price possible. To be successful, a combination of attractive pricing, along with hardworking, efficient and disciplined work ethic, and a commitment to supplying superior quality products, is appealing to those customers that want to invest in a truly pain-free retail experience.

Think in-house first
It’s important to remember that improvements and moving with the times doesn’t always have to mean the flashy, front-end marketing side of retail. Getting your logistics and processes right behind the scenes is equally as important and where many brands are getting it wrong. Back-end processes are a key area where businesses can become more cost effective. 

Retail is an industry characterised by fine margins and fierce competition. SMBs often take an in-house approach to managing their processes, gradually outsourcing them as they grow, but there are many advantages to retaining an ‘in-house’ first approach even when you are a global company. 

From setting up your own warehouses to managing call centres or even writing your own ERP software, it keeps overhead costs extremely low. Without the expense of retail space across Europe, the only building and cost the business has to worry about is the headquarters. It also builds a team of passionate employees that are fully invested in your brand and know the company inside out. By living and breathing the company and having the team full involved in everything apart from building the office walls, that passion is echoed out to your customers.

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