Online computer and laptop shops are a direct competition to bricks and mortar retail business who are failing to keep up with the latest technological innovations. Additionally, the strength of the on line industry is further driving prices down and putting pressure on laptop prices leading to smaller margins for retailers. This change is leading to complaints from some of the heavy weights of the retail industry who are complaining about these direct threats to their business operations. Generally when these retailers complain it’s more about the threat to their bottom line, and less about their customers, despite what their marketing spin doctors shout out.
Online Retailers Physical Presence
While many customers are weary of buying from over seas retailers, the Australian industry is providing many customers with a conveniant online shopping experience, with a physical presence and actual street address, to provide substance to their business operations. The days of an online retailer being a mysterious entity hiding behind a PO Box and pre-recorded voice message promising someone to call you back is gone. While many online retailers are still different to a fully fledged retail shop, many offer pick up services from their physical warehouse direct or head office. Most have complete contact details and sales staff to help with pre and post sales.
Online Shop Now With Showrooms
Companies such as Overstocked Orders (OO) has built up a reputable online shop which is backed by their direct warehouse and sample showroom. While the showroom doesn’t offer all items on display, it still provides a generous range of items to peruse, as well as the option to complete sales over the counter.
Computer Sales Brokers
Other online reatailers such as Bat Tech Express is the online shop of their service and support division. Offering a range of computers on line, they also offer a broker like sales service. Customers fill out an online order form including budget, specifications, and other details, then the sales team will arrange the best deal from their wholesalers and report back to the customer.
Lower Prices Latest Releases
These online retailers have some great advantages from their bricks and mortar cousins. By not keeping large inventory stock, customers are getting the latest models, and generally not items that may have been sitting in a warehouse for 6 months. Also margins are usually lower as their business model is more efficient. This leads to lower costs for consumers and in effect, while having lower margins, online retailers make their low margins with less effort.
Cost Of Doing Business
While bricks and mortar retailers will still be around for a while, issues such as the cost of commercial rents, staff costs in keeping a store open even if no customers are around, insurance and utility costs, location constraints, and even local Government laws are having a larger impact on businesses. An online retailer can maintain a smaller office, needs less staff and will have generally less outgoings, and can re-locate if location or local laws impact on their business without disrupting online operations.
The customer may lose out on being able to physically inspect goods though and this is where physical retailers hold their largest advantage and will most lilekly still be relevant in the technological age. As always though the success of being a fully fledged physical retail outlet store, online only, or a hybrid of the two, will depend on the decisions and foresight of management. As is true on all walks of life, it is the organism that can adapt the best, that will thrive the most.