Whether or not you already have a store offline, bringing your store “online” can significantly increase your profits and help you develop a bigger and better name for your brand.
While some countries have been further behind the e-commerce trend than others (i.e. Australia is lagging a bit behind in comparison to the USA and the UK), the businesses doing business online in those countries can reap the rewards with a potentially higher return on investment.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that in 2009-10, e-commerce businesses have enjoyed $143 billion dollars worth of Internet orders – a 15% increase from the previous year. Research has indicated that on a global scale, e-commerce will increase by 13.5% every year until 2015. World wide e-commerce profits are expected to reach over $1.4 trillion dollars.
In Australia, online purchases represent up to 6% of all retail sales, though research shows that in Australia alone online retail (“e-tail”) sales will likely account for 27% of all retail sales within the next four years.
One of the obvious reasons why the e-tail market is continuing to grow is because it’s convenient. With more and more companies offering great wholesale discounts and free shipping, it’s becoming more economical in some cases to buy online rather than to get in the car, drive to a store and waste $10 worth of petrol just to buy a t-shirt you could have otherwise gotten online.
Another large contributing factor is the growth in mobile marketing. More and more people are using their mobile phones and smartphones to look up information about companies, their products and services, and to complete any purchases they want to make.
It’s also important to note that many mobile users are using their phones to find out information about where a physical store is located. According to Google, mobile searches have quadrupled in comparison to last year, with 1 in 3 mobile searches being local (Google “Think Mobile”, 2011). 88% of people looking for local information have also reportedly taken action within a day (Google “Think Mobile”, 2011)).
So even if you are an “offline” store and you haven’t yet felt the need to go online, this alone should encourage you to at least sign up with Google Places for Business and other geo-targeting services that will help put your physical location digitally “on the map” (such as Foursquare).
As previously mentioned Australia has been less active in terms of e-commerce in the past, but in the next four years it’s forecast that Australian companies will be jumping right in on the trend. This means that any stores that are solely relying on being a “brick and mortar” type store will certainly be seeing the effects. Such retail stores account for $250 billion in annual sales, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which is expected to be less than e-commerce stores will be making overall.
The bottom line is that any type of retail store needs to get online, regardless of whether or not you have an “offline” presence. Fail to get in on e-commerce now, and you may be seeing your company sales suffer in the next few years.