Speciality retailers have a hard time in the modern marketplace as digital stores start soaking up a fair slice of their business and many watch their wallets in these times of low disposable income.
Ecommerce grew 13 per cent in Q1 2013 compared to Q1 of 2012, with Amazon hitting an almighty 22 per cent. Understandably, retailers feel they have a mammoth task ahead of them, but all is not lost.
A recently released study by digital and luxury research firm L2 found that US speciality retailers – defined as retail outlets that specialise in a particular category of items – are making serious omni-channel investments to help drive in-store sales.
Here are the twelve areas speciality retailers are investing in:
1.Online Customer Service:
Twenty-eight per cent of the 71 US retailers surveyed now have 24/7 customer service – up 18 per cent from last year. Around a tenth of these offer live chat support.
Seventy-nine per cent now offer free shipping in one form or another, usually wanting a minimum order amount to reduce cart abandonment at the checkout. The average minimum order is $132 (~Â£86) and four retailers (American Eagle Outfitters, Brooks Brothers, Tommy Hilfiger and Nine West) have partnered with Shop Runner to offer free two-day delivery in an effort to rival Amazon Prime.
3.Online Purchases, In-Store Returns
Seems obvious, but still only 69 per cent of retailers now support online purchases with in-store returns – thus allowing upsell opportunities in-store.
Nothing beats ease of payment and now 46 per cent offer the possibility to pay with PayPal at checkout. That's three times the number who did in 2011.
An old technique, but still something new for retailers as now 31 per cent send a follow-up email to those shoppers who abandon their cart. Eighteen per cent of those contain a special offer.
More than half of retailers make use of personalisation technology to suggest products based on browsing history.
Twenty-eight per cent offer the ability to customise a product through monograms, engravings etc.
Videos are now featured on the product pages of 27 per cent of retailers, which is an increase from the 18 per cent found last year. One retailer even found that shoppers were 144 per cent more likely to purchase after seeing a product video.
A whopping 75% of retailers offer e-gift cards, which is an increase from last year's 56 per cent. Some also do great loyalty schemes to keep customers coming back.
Over half of retailers are now making use of Facebook Advertising. Sixty-six per cent of them are making use of Facebook's behaviour-based targeting ads.
Ad purchasing space on YouTube searches has risen from 4 per cent in 2012 to 11 per cent this year with 28 per cent of retailers making use of YouTube ads.
12.Pinterest and Instagram
A huge 90 per cent of retailers make use of both Pinterest and Instagram, but only 58 per cent have verified Pinterest accounts. Around a third of retailers surveyed made use of a campaign on Instagram between March and April of this year. This could only grow bigger thanks to Instagram's video integration too.
Of course, there are still things that speciality retailers just aren't spending the time investing in, even if they really could be making a lot of use out of them.
1. In-Store Pickup
While 69 per cent offer in-store returns for online purchases, only 14 per cent offer in-store pickup for online purchases. A huge missed opportunity and reduced delivery costs to the consumer.
2. User Reviews
While we may dislike our fellow humans now and again, user reviews give generally insightful views onto what a product is like to use. It's a shame that little more than half show reviews on product pages.
3. Subscriber Retention
Of those surveyed, 86 per cent require email unsubscribe confirmation, only a measly 15 per cent collect data on why users unsubscribe. Not only does this mean they don't know why they're annoying subscribers, it doesn't let them offer a customer the choice of fewer emails.
4. Tumblr, Google+, Foursquare
Both Tumblr and Google+ adoption is "relatively static." Content is rarely updated and usually a carbon copy from other platforms. Only 10 per cent make use of Foursquare, with L2 “suggesting that "the platform has lost relevance."
While around 66 per cent have Vine accounts, only 38 per cent make use of the platform. This is ludicrous seeing as research suggests that Vine videos are shared four times more than other internet videos.
6. Email Personalisation
Less than half collect gender information during email sign ups, with only 43 per cent of those that do sending out gender-specific emails.
SEE ALSO: 13 Risky Brand Strategies That Paid Off
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