E commerce is fast growing to be an important channel of sales for Retail Companies. Though the volumes of online shopping may be miniscule when compared to the traditional sales channel, still the importance of being present and providing a Website for online shopping is something that no Retail Company can afford to ignore.
The fact that the traditional sales channel and e commerce sales channel are different in terms of their intrinsic characteristics, the retail business strategies for both channels have to be devised separately. The consumer behaviour as well as the process of transaction varies between the two modes. The Management experts advise three different approaches to positioning of the Retail Companies in E Environment.
Variety Based Positioning is followed by firms that generally invest in covering speciality or exclusive line of products. The product depth and variety offered in such exclusive coverage is exhaustive leaving no chance for the Customers to look at another source. Speciality Wines from Majestic Wines UK and other similar online websites for cigars, silverware etc are good examples of Retail Companies positioning in E Commerce.
Quite a few retail companies choose to specialise in catering to select customer group and build their online marketing to suite the niche segment. Companies like Levis, Department Store like Selfridges & Co as well as the exclusive boutique stores position their websites to attract the affluent and young crowds. The visuals and the website content is built to suit the taste and culture of the chosen segment.
Some of the Retail Companies choose to promote different store formats and make them available to customers to choose as per their need. Companies like Tesco have floated different formats like Extra, Metro Express as well as Tesco Online, thus ensuring that no Customer segment is ignored. The customer can choose whatever mode the Customer feels comfortable.
Positioning oneself in the online shopping category is not only limited to the Companys internal positioning strategy, but is also affected by the external environment in terms of competition as well as the evolution of web technology. Some of the pure plug and play retail companies that sell only through the internet choose to provide price comparison on their site or provide link to other sites where the customers can compare products and prices. As in the case of automotive market, retailing industry too will evolve wherein online intermediaries will start hosting exchange portals offering all the retail companies-all products online and letting the customer make his choices.
As E Competition begins to evolve we see Retail Companies having to bundle their products with related services too and offer the total package to the Customers, forcing the Companies to tie up with third party service providers and other virtual companies offering complimentary services.
E Commerce positioning strategy planning in the Retail Company calls for understanding not only the market trend, but to understand the Customers buying behaviour as well as the futuristic trends in terms of technology. In future no Retail Company can afford to stand alone and sell its products. As the technology evolves, they will be forced to partner with many others either to provide end to end online sales and financial transactions as well as to provide complete and complimentary services to the Customers. The E trends and Markets change rapidly, leaving the Retail Companys no time to adapt to the new trends and lead the race. To survive in E Trade calls for building competence in Systems and technology areas too.
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