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24 February 2016

eCommerce

Is the old way to sell the new way to sell?

Is the old way to sell the new way to sell?

During Christmas I had my eye on a particularly popular set of books that a lot of you may be familiar with –A Song of Ice and Fire, better known as the Game of Thrones these days. Now, naturally, the first place I go to check prices for books, as I am sure many of you do, is Amazon, and I found them listed on there for £42.25.

So, at a later date, to do some market research, my partner and I visited our local Waterstones and asked one of the store assistants about the Game of Thrones Book set, which she bought and started walking to checkout with immediately. I stopped her and asked for the price and she told me they were a whooping £60. That’s nearly £20 more than on Amazon!

So, I do the decent thing and very politely say that I found them cheaper online for £42 and I will be buying from there, but thanks anyway. Very rudely she asked me where this was. And the word I said next changed everything:

“Amazon.”

“Well,” She said, sucking a sour lemon, “We can’t beat Amazon prices. We pay something called taxes you see, whereas they don’t.”

#Awkward.

The moral of the story? Don’t say the A word in Waterstones.

What’s the point in me telling you this? Since huge E-Commerce retailers such as Amazon have made big bucks being an online only store, there have been quite a few bones of contention with high street brick-and-mortar retailers such as Waterstones.

The Guardian recently featured a piece about Amazon’s new Brick and Mortar store, which opened in November last year in Amazon’s home town of Seattle. With books sorted by reviews and arranged so all book faces can be seen, and kindles and various other Amazon gadgets scattered around the store, it’s like stepping into their website and being able to touch everything.

Needless to say, this move caused quite a lot of scoffing and “look who comes crawling onto the High street” remarks as part of the competitor backstabbing ritual. And it seems Amazon is not alone. As per the Guardian, around 20 E-Commerce stores have opened physical stores to forge a closer, more tangible relationship with their customers.

So why is this happening? Well, let’s face it; the world of E-Commerce is hugely competitive and retailers need a physical presence in order increase brand image awareness. But is the high street any less competitive? And do big boy retailers such as Amazon really need to increase brand awareness? I personally don’t think so.

In order to give customers a more personal, well-rounded experience, it’s important that if you can afford to have both E-commerce and physical channels, you definitely should, and this is probably the most likely reason for their decision to open a brick and mortar store. In an age where people want everything available at the drop of a hat, it doesn’t do much harm to ensure you are making your products available to customers whether they are on the laptop, using a mobile phone or walking the high street.

Many people seem to think Amazon built a Brick and mortar store because they needed it! Let’s get real, people - Amazon don’t need money - perhaps it was a move made solely to antagonize Waterstones further?

All jokes aside, it’s important to give your customers something to see and feel and there are definite ways to cross those hurdles if you only want an E-Commerce store. For instance, doing Digital Marketing properly and hiring experts to give you tailored advice, such as here at FDC, can ensure you don’t fall at the first hurdle (or at any of the others, obviously). But having the best of both worlds is the ultimate luxury, regardless of which way round you decide to do it.

So is a brick and mortar establishment better than an E-Commerce Store? Well, some people think so.

But I’m not so sure. I think the most important things are price and convenience. It’s more convenient to shop online if you’re busy, and it’s cheaper to shop with Amazon online, too. Of course, having a physical store definitely doesn’t hurt, but is it essential? Definitely not.

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