Do you know what the fastest growing time slot is for customers to browse and buy? It is 6-9pm and it is taking place in lounge rooms around Australia as time poor families find a quiet moment to shop online. What do traditional retailers do about that?
Online sales in Australia between January and March 2015 were up 22% on last year with household goods, electronics and travel high on the agenda. So, with online sales pinching a chunk of our business what is the best strategy for QVM Traders?
Do we compete directly online with a multitude of individual trader websites or perhaps an umbrella website for all traders? A small number of traders have individual websites and I am going to guess that a much smaller number are happy with the results. Forget all the hype about how easy it is to set up and maintain a website. Websites take time, particularly if you change product lines regularly, and you want to keep stock levels monitored accurately. And most of the action happens out of hours when you are trying to get a life away from your day job (or in the case of some of our traders, a night and day job). So, should we really be putting a lot of effort into competing online?
Another option is to tackle what we do best - provide a bricks and mortar shopping experience like no other. The Draft Master Plan aims to make us a "Market of Markets". It makes a lot of sense to concentrate on the experience of shopping in a traditional environment with real people and real goods. We may need to raise the standard of how we treat our customers (hell, let's be honest, we could do much better - as one trader suggested this week, we could ban mobile gaming at stalls for a start). And there is plenty of QVM infrastructure that could be improved to make shopping more convenient.
But if we are looking at enhancing the difference between an online shopping experience and "real shopping" then QVM's intention of creating a "Market of Markets" (let's also call it a shopping and entertainment precinct) starts to make a lot more sense. More events, complimented by a wider range of trading options, simply means a lot more reasons for customers to visit our market, maybe even those who have been lured by online buying.
Convenience is an important factor for today's shoppers, and we can improve our own performance in that area, but entertainment and excitement are two equally important elements and that is where a "Market of Markets" can have the edge.
Greg Smith - QVMAC Trader Representative.