Business, Consumer, digital strategy

Retail’s digital transformation


Retail Transformation

The digital age has changed the way consumers make purchases. The ease of online shopping has allowed for consumers to shop beyond the borders of their own town or even their country, making worldwide shopping easy and accessible.

Ireland is falling behind
Ireland’s consumer base is following this trend; however, Irish retailers are still relying on foot traffic to provide most of their revenue. The fact that Irish stores do not provide ecommerce options has not prevented the Irish consumer from shopping online, rather encouraged these shoppers to take their business elsewhere. Ireland lags behind the United Kingdom which has a strong online shopping presence; therefore, the Irish consumers have turned to UK retailers to do much of their online shopping.

Consumers are willing to change, brands must too
The Irish consumer is not set in their ways. Instead, they turn to British storefronts due to ease. The Internet Day survey conducted in Ireland in 2018 demonstrates that 65% of consumers would be willing to purchase from local stores if they had an option to purchase online and pick up in store. The problem is not the Irish consumer, it is the lack of Irish ecommerce options. Well known stores including Mothercare, Debenhams, and Marks and Spencer are making drastic changes to their business model to make up for their quarters that are suffering as a result to their late adoption of the online market.

No brand experience, no shot of success
There are some stores who are bucking the digital trend but in order to retain success in the real world these stores provide their shoppers with an experience, something that consumers are looking for in their shopping adventures. They want to go to a store that provides them with a funny story, or aesthetically pleasing opportunity, something that can be documented and then shared on social media. Stores such as Ikea offer visitors with an experience, setting up real life examples of apartments using their products for all different dimensions. In addition to a unique shopping experience, Ikea provides its customers with an option to enjoy a Swedish meal while they take a break from their shopping experience. In New York City, Nordstrom just opened their first store in the center of the city. This store is assumed to achieve success due to their unique business model. Within the store there are virtual reality mirrors that allow the consumer to virtually try on lipstick shades before they make their purchase. Additionally, on each of the seven floors there are food concessions. Customers can order drinks while shopping in the shoe departments and the dressing rooms. These unique experiences encourage visitors to shop in store, because online shopping would prevent the customer from experiencing the special benefits of the store.

Keeping your brand consistent in person and online is crucial
To achieve success in the digital marketplace, the Irish retailers must match their in-store and online experiences, reminding consumers what it means to be a part of the brand from the comfort of their own home, or on Grafton street. Vaughan Shoes, with three locations in County Mayo established excellent success after expanding to have an online retail option as well, the company does an excellent job of incorporating their distinguished and memorable in store experience.

Not adopting the trends means no brand expansion
If the Irish storefronts do not adopt this new digitized frenzy, the local consumers will not stop shopping, rather they will turn to alternative retailers for their shopping habits. Stores such as Micks Garage founded by Michael Crean in 2003 in his small village in County Mayo. Four years later, Micks garage expanded to online, allowing for surprising success even with the financial crisis and other companies financial failure.

Digital success can be achieved. Retails can transform their traditional success on the street into digital success, but they need to embrace technology. Digitization should be viewed as an opportunity rather than seen as a threat.

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