A trader commented on Friday - “That was a good article about Amazon.” (Great – every editor loves to hear that.) Then he said “But that bit about trader’s websites… you had it completely wrong” (Damn – too early with the self-praise.)
The article was about Amazon doing one thing really, really well, and that was being a one stop shop through a website that had almost everything you could imagine. The article concluded with the suggestion that some traders might consider adding more products to their own website in order to add a measure of Amazon convenience for their customers. That was the bit that this trader didn’t like.
He believes that traders are wasting their time with complex and time consuming websites. He believes we simply don’t have the time or resources to do the job properly and he asks the question “Are any traders making good money off the internet?” He says our game is capturing customers who come to visit us at the market – this is the core place for us to do business.
(Just on that question “Are any traders making good money off the internet?”, we need to understand that online is not huge for most retailers, except internet pure-play operators. There are varied assessments of how big online is with 10-15% being the most common although some retail commentators suggest that it is as little as 7% in Australia. The point is that online may be relatively small but it is growing at a fast rate.)
Our trader is inspired by TJ Maxx the bold new retailer that has just opened over 20 stores in Australia selling what is called “off-price” stock. These are brand names but one-offs or end of lines that can create incredible bargains for customers. TJ Maxx pretty well ignore the internet. They rely on customers visiting their stores to find that great bargain and they put all their effort into finding on-trend fashion goods that are compelling buys. The thrill of the hunt is what they aim for and it certainly appears to be working. TJ Maxx are often seen as bucking the current trend in retail. In other words they are kicking goals while many retailers, particularly department stores are struggling.
The concept is great - enthuse customers to buy while they are at the market and remove that excuse that they will check out your website later. And that is fine for traders who have access to something special, something that not everyone else can get, just like TJ Maxx being able to access “off-price” stock. Traders who manufacture their own goods or have sole rights to a product(s) qualify here. For the rest of us we may have to keep on looking for the magic unique product range or start packing our websites with more products like our original article suggested.