‘Mega Monday’ Bucks High Street Woes
Monday last week saw record online sales in the UK, as widely predicted. A combination of bargains, increased Web access and poor weather means that, more than ever, UK consumers are buying online. New Media Knowledge spoke to an affiliate marketing firm to see how high street brands can best leverage ecommerce.
This week’s ‘Mega Monday’ saw some £320 million being spent online in the run-up to Christmas, according to Internet trading group IMRG, up 14 per cent on the £280.7 million spent on the same day in 2007.
Internet entertainment site Play.com recorded a 30 per cent increase on sales this time last year, peaking at a thousand orders per minute during lunchtime and evening periods. Play.com’s Stuart Rowe said that Mega Monday’s sales had exceeded the company’s own expectations.
Attention to Retail
While the Web makes gains, the high street is seeing its toughest climate for decades. The British Retail Consortium this week reported high street sales dropped 2.6 per cent in November year-on-year. With retail figures on the high street expected to be lower this month too due to tough economic conditions many retailers are concentrating on their online offerings.
Manchester-based Maxafi specialises is increasing brand exposure and site traffic for high street brands, including specifically-created campaign websites and tailored pay-per-click (PPC) services.
The company’s founder, Lee Bailey, sees the market evening out from traditional peaks experienced around Christmas in previous years. “Whilst ecommerce sales are higher this year, they are much more evenly spread than last,” he told NMK. “Last year saw a notable number of key days for online shopping, whilst this year it has been fairly evenly spread, with no particular spikes.”
So how what does the increased move towards ecommerce mean for high street brands? Bailey believes that we can expect to see more high profile names disappear in the next 12 months.
“As these stores close, the high street as we know it will become less and less popular with shoppers looking for better choice and value,” he said, adding that the way we shop is changing. “Books and DVDs remain a popular choice [for online purchase], as do most high-ticket electrical items. Clothing is amongst the most popular though, with most savvy buyers simply ordering multiples of the same item in different sizes and returning those that don’t fit.”
New Year’s Revolution
More good news for e-tailers should be imminent as IMRG’s chief executive, James Roper, expects next Monday to generate even bigger gains. “Online sales are holding up well, considering the economic conditions,” he said.
For Bailey, there are few key points which retailers must adopt in current economic climate to ensure that they remain competitive.
“[Retailers must] embrace the Internet fully. Too many retailers still have poor turnaround times for online shoppers, who expect delivery within a few days at most,” he warned. “Then ensure online marketing spend is adequately analysed. Many companies waste 50 per cent of their budget, but don't know which 50 per cent.”
Bailey believes that retailers should look beyond the traditional marketing outlets and consider alternative marketing such as competition and loss leaders to generate word-of-mouth ‘buzz’ and increase brand exposure.
“Never underestimate the effectiveness of good customer service. Particularly online, prompt responses to email queries from customers are known to have a positive effect,” he concluded.