Sunday 11 March 2012

Does the QVM Need a Better Online Presence?

There has been lots of discussion in the retail industry this week about which retailers understand the challenge of online retailing and which don't.

Woolworths have whole heartedly embraced the online concept with the launch of a mobile app that has already been downloaded 1.5 million times, launched a daily deals site, introduced a click'n'collect service, and says that online retailing is "the biggest opportunity in retail in years".

Harvey Norman on the other hand has just announced a reduction in its estimated online take from 5% to between 1% and 2% and, according to Business Spectator, Gerry Harvey “just doesn’t get it”. Myer has yet to update its e-retailing strategies but we know they are developing a new e-commerce site, introducing click'n'collect, a daily deals site, and an overhaul of their digital strategies. Myer have the advantage of a brand new POS system which will enhance integration of all their information systems and the interface with customers. Just Group have identified online as an important growth area with their website already being their ”largest store”.

It is early days for e-retailing but the efforts by the big boys so far, and the urgency they are showing, suggests that it is a force to be reckoned with as strategies are developed to handle the new consumerism.

Where does QVM fit in with this whole scenario? There is an argument for saying that going online is the responsibility of individual traders and many do have their own websites. However, a bit like with marketing generally, the ability of small traders to generate the expertise and resources for a comprehensive strategy is limited. Common sense and economic realities suggest that this is a task best conducted by QVM in a similar way that Westfield conduct a very professional and comprehensive web presence on behalf of their retailers. The Westfield example allows customer interaction on a scale similar to the best individual retailer's offerings.

The QVM website does offer some marketing avenues although management themselves admit it is old, outmoded, and in need of updating. Access to trader's details for instance is only easily accessed by a footnote at the bottom of the main page. Given the urgency being displayed by other retailers, perhaps it is time the MCC used some of its surplus to fast track funds for an update for the QVM website and allow a professional e-retailing site to be developed.