Sunday 22 October 2017

The Declining Number Of Traditional Market Shoppers

Around the globe retailers are falling over themselves and each other as they innovate, and later in this article we give a link that will assist traders to introduce an important element of innovation themselves.

Retailers are addressing a retail revolution in which online shopping has impacted dramatically on customer expectations. “Going shopping” isn’t just about walking down a main street or through a shopping centre or retail market. Essentially shoppers have a lot more tools to do their shopping – they can research online before they even go out the door – they can check prices and ranges – they can actually make some choices before they step into a store – or even avoid the store entirely and purchase from a computer, tablet, or mobile. Online adds a whole new level of service and convenience.

So what are the essential elements of this convenience?
1.     Customers can shop, or at least research, pretty much anytime they want, and wherever they want.
2.     Customers can ease the decision making burden through this process.
3.     Customers can find what they want quickly and save time for more important things in life. (Is there anything more important than shopping?)
4.     Customers can organise delivery if their best purchasing option is too far away or they just don’t have time.
5.     Customers can track what is happening.
6.     Customers can reduce time wastage.

In a mad scramble to address the retail revolution, all major retailers are essentially doing one thing – they are looking for ways to add levels of service and convenience to bricks’n’mortar shopping.

But what are we doing at QVM? And “we” refers to traders and management. There are some glaring shortfalls from both.

Way-finding at QVM is woeful. For those customers who are prepared to wander for three hours that is no problem, but we know that wandering is becoming less and less part of shopping. Customers are less likely to go shopping with just a hope that they will find what they want. More and more shoppers are looking for convenience and a result. Other retail outlets offer tools that make the process easier for customers.

Detached engagement by traders is woeful. In a retail world where engagement can happen almost anywhere at any time, too many traders continue to rely on the 6 or so core hours when they are at their stall - no website, no business cards, no mobile phone numbers.

The bottom line is that traders who are relying on wanderers and non-tech engagers are faced with an ever declining supply of customers.

There are many methods being used by the world’s retailers to capture the hearts and minds of shoppers. A lot of it is experimentation with a high degree of risk but there are clearly some measures that are working and becoming mainstream. Some of those are listed below -  
1.     We need a much better way-finding process at QVM that incorporates better directory assistance along with accessible online trader data.
2.     Every trader needs a website – no excuses. It doesn’t matter if you just sell smaller items, or you feel you have too many products, or you are not familiar with technology, or you don’t have time, - the only thing that matters is that customers expect you to have a website. And you will find, like a number of market traders, that integrating a website with your stall pays dividends. It is easier than you think and it generates business. Here is a link to a QVM Co-operative Marketing Program. Scroll down to the section marked “3. Digital Package” to start the ball rolling.
3.     Hours of trade – we don’t line up with customer expectations and we know that. Many of us were attracted to market trading initially because it fitted in with business and life style. Convenience hungry consumers have changed that dynamic. The only concession is that getting the website convenience right, may give us some leeway with stall trading hours. Being available doesn't have to mean standing behind your stall 12 hours a day. But if you only trade 6 hours you need to be available in other ways like through your website.
4.     Delivery service – the core to online transactions is a timely, convenient delivery service. Tourists in particular are luggage-space poor and there are a number of solutions for getting goods to their hotel or home. Traders need to develop strategies and perhaps there are opportunities here for a business operation similar to what operates at some European markets where goods are delivered at a cost shared by trader and customer.

These are just starting points for QVM becoming more attuned to customer needs as we compete in a very competitive retail world. It is not good enough for QVM just to attract traditional market shoppers. There are simply not enough of them. We need to maximise our relevance to every consumer group if we are to survive.

By Greg Smith

PS - an article worth reading for more on the online/bricks'n'mortar debate -

Have Your Say - click here.