Hosted by CEO of GeoDirectory, Dara Keogh, the webinar featured an expert panel of speakers – Duncan Graham, MD at Retail Excellence
Ireland, Miriam Simon, Consultant Retail Strategist at PTO.ie
and Jeff Sheridan, MD at Matrix Internet
. The panel discussed the very real challenges retailers face right now both on and offline and how best to overcome them.
Mr. Keogh opened the event speaking about the general economic environment and the indicative factors for retail. He mentioned how research carried out on behalf of Geodirectory showed 3 out of 5 people intending to make a purchase on a website would leave that site if the task of inputting their address
etc, became too onerous. He followed this up with a demonstration of GeoAddress Checked
, a tool that solves this problem quickly, cheaply and easily.
Acknowledging the news the previous day of an extended lockdown, Mr. Keogh asked panellists Duncan Graham and Miriam Simon about the challenges facing retailers due to the Covid-19 crisis. They both spoke of their hope that businesses will be allowed reopen shortly, and that a bumper consumer trade in Q4 will result from this.
When asked what would be best advice she would give to retailers looking to create an online presence, Miriam said that ensuring your website processes are fully integrated is crucial. Ms. Simon commented that ‘all too often a lovely, pretty website hasn’t got the checkout systems in place to ensure a smooth conversion’. She added that it is essential that bricks and mortar and online businesses are properly aligned and “that you need to look at how you will manage both when shops are allowed reopen as you don’t want to be up till 3am, putting new product online and fulfilling orders as they come in”.
Jeff Sheridan of Matrix Internet was keen to highlight that “the number 1 reason 2/3 of people leave a website with items still in their cart is down to a flawed billing and shipping page on a site”. Frustration at completing the purchase he said, can really effect the consumer relationship with the retailer. And if there are any issues with the form it can really impact the length of delivery time. Mr. Sheridan spoke about key part of the online process is establishing trust between the business and the customer, especially first time customers. He advocated for a very simple process to find and pay for goods.
Mr. Graham later spoke about the importance of replicating the 1-to-1 customer experience consumers receive in a retail premise and transferring it online. He firmly believes it possible with enough effort given to the online presence, social media, shipping and aftercare.
Speaking about social media and the role on influencers, all three agreed that the more polished, expensive influencers are not as trusted as those showing a more raw, real side. They also agreed that retailers don’t need to be on every social platform but they do need to be on the ones where their customers are. Ms. Simon touched on the explosion of Tik-Tok as a likely next step for retailers to venture into.
Attendees had the opportunity to pose questions with many touching on the subject of the future of bricks and mortar stores and what their purpose would be in the future. Mr. Duncan took this query up saying that he was a different future for bricks and mortar. He acknowledge that customers will always want to go out and about, that it is important to make major shopping areas places of entertainment and fun to draw in the crowds. But he saw shopping taking place in a new way where digital and bricks would meet. “I see the future along the lines of shopping showrooms. You will walk in, buy what you want with your phone and leave. And when you get home your purchase will be waiting for you!” he said cheerfully.
The elephant in the room is undoubtedly the issue of Brexit. The panellist’s spoke about the pros and cons of the current difficulties faced by both retailers and consumers due to the United Kingdom leaving the EU. Overall, they predicted this would have positive outcome for indigenous Irish retail operations.
In their concluding remarks, the three speakers while fully recognising the enormous difficulties that retailers are facing at present, were very bullish in their outlook for the retail sector after the restrictions are lifted and shops are allowed reopen their doors. All signs pointed to a very, very busy Q4 for retail!
The full webinar recording is available to listen back to here.