In a market where high street retail is struggling and the internet is becoming more and more essential to the purchasing process, Dixons has made the remarkable decision to shut down its e-commerce site. We consider why this decision was made, what the company is doing now, and what this means for other businesses who want to get their e-commerce approach right.
As of the 9th of October, big name electrical retailer Dixons no longer has an e-commerce channel. After six years of operating an e-commerce website, owner DSG has decided to close Dixons.co.uk and focus on developing its multichannel proposition for its Currys and PC World brands instead.
With its biggest competitors (i.e. Amazon and eBay) basing their offerings solely on e-commerce, what has motivated Dixons to close this avenue for its own customers?
How Dixons now operates online
Go to www.dixons.co.uk and the first thing you’ll notice is that you’ve been re-directed to www.currys.co.uk.
The official statement declares, “We are happy to say that Dixons is now part of the Currys experience. With Currys we’re offering you great deals, easier ways of shopping, more services, helpful buyer’s guides and more products to choose from.” With the emphasis on “easier ways of shopping”, it’s unsurprising that Currys’ e-commerce offering is still up and running. However, DSG seems intent on promoting a multitude of purchasing options to its customers, from click and collect in-store to next day home delivery and installation. It even offers the option to ‘shop online in store’.
“The mix of shopping choices makes Currys an exciting place to be: browse on your PC at home, on your smartphone or in store and then select the best products and services for you,” the page boasts.
“It’s how customers shop”
The closure of Dixon’s e-commerce site, and Currys subsequent variety of offerings, raise a poignant question in today’s ever-changing retail market: is it time for a new style of e-commerce? Are multi-channel alternatives, such as click and collect, just as quick, efficient and inexpensive, or should companies be offering both options to their customers in order to maximise potential sales?
Dixons wholeheartedly advocates the multichannel approach. “It’s how customers shop,” spokesman Mark Webb declared in a recent statement. “70 per cent of shoppers that come into a store to buy have looked the product up online first.”
There are some convincing statistics that suggest e-commerce, and indeed m-commerce, are thriving industries – not just in the UK, but around the world. More than 80% of the current online population have used the internet to make a purchase, and by 2016, the internet economy is predicted to reach $4.2 dollars in the G20 countries alone. What’s clear is that an updated approach to e-commerce is needed, if retail businesses are to meet the expectations of modern consumers.
Selling becomes social?
The way e-commerce seems to be evolving at the moment is to form ever-closer links with social media: as we speak (or rather, type), Facebook is trialling a ‘want’ button, which will replace its ‘like’ button on corporate pages, to allow consumers to build online wish-lists of their desired products. The function, which Facebook is calling “Collections”, is currently only available on the pages of selected big name American companies, such as Victoria’s Secret and Pottery Barn, but if the tests are successful, the scheme could be rolled out nationally or even globally.
The use of social media adds an additional element to the e-commerce mix, but regardless of how complex the layers of the process may become, as Robert W. Baird analyst Colin Sebastian commented when asked about Facebook’s new venture, “e-commerce is one of the best ways to monetise the internet.”
The evolution of e-commerce
It is undeniable that e-commerce offers a wealth of advantages to all sizes of business – with lower operational costs, no geographical limitations and 24 hour opening hours, there’s certainly something to be said for online retail. However, it’s becoming increasingly evident that contemporary e-commerce should be offered in partnership with an efficient multichannel approach, rather than as a standalone effort.
Consumers no longer want to be presented with the stark choice of buying either in store or online. The purchasing journey has been altered, and in many ways, united: modern buyers may want to research a product on their smartphone, price check on their tablet, pay a visit to the store, and then still end up buying on their PC. Alternatively, they might want to collect images of favoured products on Pinterest or Facebook, before visiting the store to view the items in person and make a purchase.
E-commerce, therefore, may not be the be all and end all of buying, but it is still essential as part of the process. Businesses who want to establish an effective e-commerce campaign need to focus on making their website as user friendly as possible – and the key to this lies in content.
Why is quality content so important for e-commerce websites?
Quality content should be at the heart of any website, but this is particularly crucial for e-commerce websites. It is essential that information about the retailer and its products is available at the click of a button, and that it is easy to understand and engage with once it has been selected. Even if the customer elects to make their final purchase in store, it is more than likely that they will use the company’s website for research purposes, demonstrating the importance of good content for the multichannel approach. Remember, there’s no salesperson on hand when it comes to e-commerce, so you have to let your content do the talking – which is why it is important to make it as engaging and effective as it can possibly be. Make sure you give the customer what they’re looking for!
At Write My Site, we help online retailers create high quality e-commerce content. If you want to start an e-commerce website for your business, or simply improve your company’s existing offering, why not get in touch at [email protected] to see how we can help?