Online Retailers? If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em

After Tuesday’s blog about the collapse of HMV and the impact that internet retailers had on the high-street, yesterday saw the news of Blockbuster entering into administration. Times are tough for brick and mortar retailers and while many try and fail to build a strong e-commerce platform, even now there are some large organisations that are yet to create a presence on the internet. Seller Dynamics therefore asks if you can’t beat the internet traders, why not join them?

Christmas 2012 transpired to be anything but the season of joy for Morrisons as the supermarket started January with the announcement of a 2.5% decline in sales over the six week Christmas period in comparison to the previous year. Since this announcement, questions have been asked about Morrisons’ reluctance to engage in e-commerce considering that they are the UK’s fourth largest grocery retailer yet do have an online store unlike their main competitors – Tesco, Asda and Sainsburys.

While the world sat up and took notice of the huge impact that B2C e-commerce had on the retail industry over the Christmas season, it was somewhat surprising to hear that Morrisons was not one of the many companies who profited from selling via an online store. Although CEO Dalton Philips has stated that the majority of Morrisons customers are not interested in shopping online, having a minority who do spend online is better than more and more customers being lost to competitors that offer an entirely different shopping experience to that of Morrisons. Philips however has since hinted that the company may look towards developing the e-commerce side of their business as a result of the Christmas decline and the ever increasing numbers of UK consumers looking to the internet to make purchases.

The power brokers at Morrisons only need to look at last year to see why e-commerce is such an important area of retail. Online sales in the UK grew at a rate of 17.8% in 2012, the fastest e-commerce growth rate ever recorded. While Morrisons may be seen as late bloomers in comparison to Tesco who have operated an online store since 2000, Philips must move his company into this market before taking any more financial hits. While only approximately 5% of all grocery sales are made online, this still presents an opportunity for Morrisons and it is more likely than not that this figure will only increase in the coming years.

Whether or not Morrisons will definitely launch an online store is still undecided but from our perspective as an e-commerce specialist, we believe that the company most definitely has to move into e-commerce in order not to be swept behind by the ever growing tide they seem to be fighting against.

HMV – The day the music died

Music and entertainment retailer HMV has been plunged into administration after racking up debts of £176.1 million, making it yet another high street casualty to yield to the current economic climate. The grim news will have a profound impact on the 4,350 individuals employed by the company and for music fans around the UK who are bracing themselves for the loss of yet another iconic music outlet.

As Deloitte prepare to conduct the administration process, analysts are already questioning the impact that e-commerce has had on this high-street giant and how the change in the consumption of music has affected not only HMV but all retailers in this particular sector. Despite having an online store in addition to the 239 stores that HMV operate in the UK, the surge in digital music and video content sold mainly through Apple iTunes has been cited as the main reason for HMV’s gradual decline over the years. The company have already been downsizing for some time after selling its live entertainment arm and Waterstones book store. However, competing with digital downloads, online marketplaces and supermarkets selling the same goods at loss leader prices has proved to be too much with consumers now offered cheaper and easier ways of shopping for entertainment. No longer accepting gift vouchers from customers, (buyers can claim the money back from debit/credit card issuer using chargeback) Deloitte have stated their intention to keep all the HMV outlets open while seeking potential buyers

Famed for its association with the music industry, HMV is also renowned for being a DVD retailer although this area of the business has also come under threat from these same competitors not to mention the emergence of on demand broadcasting services. Lovefilm, Netflix, and Sky On Demand again offer consumers an instant product at a cheaper price than a hard copy, and once more undercuts HMV’s business model by giving consumers instant purchases at lower rates.

The face of entertainment consumption has changed and while this may be for the better in terms of technology, price and instant availability of music and films, it has come at a cost in terms of jobs and the layout of high streets and shopping centres. Whether this is the beginning of the end for large entertainment stores is yet to be seen although it is yet another indication of the importance of incorporating digital and e-commerce in a modern retail business plan.

A new look for Seller Dynamics

The weekend is here at last and it’s been another busy week for Seller Dynamics. This week finally see’s the new Seller Dynamics logo make its debut on the world stage and we hope that it will be a logo which grows in prominence over the course of the forthcoming new year. Having the right logo and brand image is arguably as important as selling the right product. For example, few people can accurately distinguish the taste between Coca Cola and Pepsi yet would still be able to identify one brand as their preferred Cola drink. The reason? A powerful marketing strategy and a brand image that is renowned around the globe.

While we’re not implying that we are anywhere near as big and powerful as either of those brands, the new look Seller Dynamics logo has impressed everyone in the office and we hope that it soon becomes a recognised image in the e-commerce industry. The patterns forming the main image are shaped like shopping labels and represent boxed goods. With each label growing larger in a semi-clockwise direction, this is to represent the flow of stock from a user clicking to process an order to it arriving at their door. We feel this is consistent with our brand as Seller Dynamics is about helping online retailers to manage their stock, generate a greater volume of orders and dispatch goods as quickly as possible.

The colours used to create our new logo were selected due to their bright, eye-catching appeal when used together and when branding a product, it’s always important that you use a logo that will catch the eye and therefore stick in the mind. A consumer buys into a brand as much as they buy into a product, therefore it is vital that Seller Dynamics looks the part as well as works well for clients who use the software.  Keep an eye out for our new look website which will appear in the near future and please feel free to voice your opinions on the Seller Dynamics re-brand by leaving us a comment here or on our new Facebook page.

new sd logo fin copy proof

UK e-commerce sales set to reach record figures as Mega Monday gets underway

After the American population embarked in a flurry of online spending over last weekend’s Thanksgiving holiday, today is the UK’s turn to experience a mammoth day of internet shopping.  Dubbed “Mega Monday,” Monday December 3rd is expected to be the busiest UK online shopping day in history with online retailers expecting to generate a huge £465 million in revenue.

As a result of online retail giants such as Seller Dynamics’ partners Amazon and eBay offering one-off sales to attract shoppers, another e-commerce record will be again smashed as the industry continues to grow in Britain. With 115 million visits to retail websites expected on Mega Monday, this would mean there would be a staggering 36% increase in online consumers from the corresponding day last year.  The year-on-year increase in internet shopping in the UK suggests that e-commerce is fast becoming a cultural norm for British consumers and offers a faster and cheaper way to complete Christmas shopping. A higher proportion of the population living with broadband internet, improved internet speed, and the increase of smartphones and tablet devices being used by consumers are all important factors to why online shopping has become so popular with a UK audience and why days like Mega Monday have been born into existence.

However, one man’s loss is another man’s gain and while online retailers are preparing themselves for a December where £5bn will be spent online, high street spending has been suffering in the run-up to Christmas with sales to date down 0.2% on last year. With retail giants such as Comet and JJB Sports recently going into liquidation, online retailers are more likely to take a greater share of the Christmas market. Amazon – who have incidentally chosen Mega Monday to launch their new fashion store – have prepared for what could be the busiest day in the history of Amazon.co.uk by hiring an additional 10,000 seasonal employees in order to cope with the surge in demand which will see UK online marketplaces operate on a scale that has never before been witnessed.

Whisky on Amazon? I’ll drink to that!

Seller Dynamics is delighted to announce that our newest client Ealain Gallery has launched their very own online store on Amazon. The upmarket whisky specialist is located next to the spectacular surroundings of Loch Lomond and offers customers a wide range of fine Scotch whisky. While the winter weather in Scotland may affect the stream of visitors to the remote Loch Lomond area, Ealain Gallery’s Amazon outlet is the perfect way for whisky lovers to browse and purchase products from the comfort of their own armchair.

High quality Scotch whisky is a popular gift in Scotland and beyond so having their online store fully operational in time for Christmas is an added bonus. As our previous blog posts have noted, this time of year sees a huge spike in internet shopping with many consumers looking to buy gifts quickly and without the strains of fighting through heavy crowds. We were thrilled to hear that after just a few days of being listed on Amazon, Ealain Gallery was receiving numerous online orders and had even found themselves short of packing tape due to the high demand for their whisky! We hope that they will continue to enjoy the benefits of their new online store for a long time to come and can capitalise on a forecasted UK e-commerce spend of £13.4bn over the festive season.

In the case of Ealain Gallery, Seller Dynamics assisted in ensuring that our client had met every requirement for selling alcohol online before creating their listing on Amazon. Our marketplace management software however is not industry specific and it can be used by any retail business regardless of what field they specialise in. In addition to Amazon, Seller Dynamics is able to provide client listings in multiple marketplaces such as eBay, Play.com, and French retail giant Fnac. As the global e-commerce market continues to grow at a phenomenal rate, Seller Dynamics aims to play a key role in assisting numerous retailers develop their online offerings on the biggest marketplaces in the hope that they will be able to boost their sales figures and reach a wider audience than they could ever imagine.

Online retailers prepare for a record breaking Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend

The final weekend in November is set to be another milestone for the global e-commerce market with worldwide annual online sales predicted to break the $1trillion mark as a result of the “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” shopping phenomenon.

Operating on multiple online marketplaces will present retailers with the ideal opportunity to grow their sales over this huge weekend of internet shopping and enable them to gain real momentum in the lead up to Christmas. However, these marketplaces must be monitored and managed correctly to ensure that online sellers can generate maximum sales value by quickly adapting to the ever-changing market conditions over the course of the long weekend and beyond.

Correct pricing is a critical factor particularly over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend; defined as it is by numerous promotional offers and huge savings. During this weekend, Seller Dynamics is looking to play a vital role in ensuring that our clients are always ahead of the market and top of the page as a result of our automated price margin management feature.

Seller Dynamics can be hugely beneficial to businesses that aim to offer their customers the best value prices, ensuring that the price of a product is automatically altered in relation to any changes to an extremely busy marketplace. As a result of setting a maximum and minimum margin range in relation to rivals selling the same products on the same markets, Seller Dynamics’ customers can be confident of always being price competitive and thus always being in front of buyers at all times, even across inventories of tens of thousands of product lines.

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Growing at a global rate of 20%, the Business-to-Consumer e-commerce market is a rich source of potential revenue for retailers that make the decision to sell online and although multiple marketplace listings do not guarantee success, a dynamic and well managed system will almost certainly make a significant difference to an organisation’s overall revenue.