Six things the offline world can learn from doing business on the internet...
Dot-com doom getting you down? Are the powers-that-be threatening to pull funding from that web-based project you've been working on for months? Before the business world takes a permanent downer on everything 'e' it's worth considering what the internet has taught the offline world. Here are half a dozen lessons for starters, good ideas that that can cut costs or improve sales. Go tell it to the board:
1. Cannibalisation doesn't exist
Clicks don't kill bricks. Consumers who use multiple channels are more loyal than consumers who use just one. US bookseller Barnes & Noble has seen visitors to its stores steadily grow since the introduction of bn.com - last year five per cent more people came through the door and online sales doubled.
Meanwhile, Tesco.com claims a customer who uses both on and offline shopping channels will spend 20 per cent more on average than a customer who just uses the real store.
2. How to improve in-store customer service
Talking of Tesco, the supermarket turned online poster child is working on a service that will allow cashiers to alert shoppers with special dietary needs if they buy something they shouldn't have. Online shoppers can already set up filters - those avoiding dairy products and those with nut allergies will be told if they inadvertently buy products containing offending ingredients. By linking this database to the tills - via clubcard data - cashiers in real-life stores will be able to offer exactly the same service.
3. Don't always deliver
Here's another example of the symbiotic relationship between on and offline.
Just because customers shop online they don't necessarily want their goods delivered to their home. Many - most notably Waitrose - have learnt that delivery to the workplace is a very attractive option. More radical still is the notion that users will order online but come into the high-street store to pick it up - perhaps because they are passing the store at lunchtime or just want to save on postage and packing. Office Depot, the US stationery store, is one company to offer this service.
To read lessons four to six, click here http://www.silicon.com/a48677 For related news, see
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