Andy Chubb of Bandshop reveals the pitfalls associated with online trading...
There is a perception that online retailers have an advantage over local High Street stores. I would like to throw my hat into the ring and state that it’s not perhaps as easy as some might think.
Here at Bandshop, we trade exclusively online, and we are what you would consider to be a young business. Being based solely online means that Google is an integral part of our marketing strategy and in order to compete, we have to be seen within its search listings.
This is by no means an easy feat. Google makes regular updates to its algorithms, which it relies on to determine who appears where within the search results. Due to the amount of spam that exists, Google will take a while to trust a new website and give it kudos in its ranking positions, therefore making it much more difficult to appear on the first page for a popular search term. This basically means that competing with established brands and online stores that have been trading for years is much more difficult than it has been in the past.
Being a success online means you must do everything you can to build up a loyal customer base, due to the sheer amount of competition around. As well as creating a nice looking, well-optimised website that will rank well in Google, e-commerce stores must now build their brand name through social networks such as Facebook and Twitter and try to be as innovative with their marketing as they possibly can, in order to stand out from the crowd.
I think the internet is absolutely fantastic and I certainly couldn’t imagine life without it. But perhaps being based online allows me to have a different perspective to that of people who own or work in High Street stores.
I believe that our industry in particular consists of a customer base that enjoys talking to others about their passion. I for one still get a thrill out of going into my local music shop and trying out a new guitar, attempting to show off with my lousy playing, and then being able to talk face-to-face with someone as passionate about music and instruments as I am.
When you are based solely online it is more difficult to build up that rapport with your customers, and loyalty is much harder to come by. One of the benefits of social networking sites is that they give you a platform from which you can communicate with customers on a more personal level.
But in the online world, your customers are only a couple of clicks away from your competitors, so you have to be sure you do everything you can to earn their trust and loyalty, and make them want to add your store to their bookmark bar so they come back time and again.