How your website can kill your stores

I’m a keen runner and over the last few years I have bought lots of my kit from the ‘Up & Running’ shop in Nottingham, which is part of a national chain.

I know the manager of the Nottingham store reasonably well and the great thing about Up & Running is that they give great advice and even provide video gait analysis, so they can advise on the best running shoes for you. I have no experience of any of their other stores, but if they are as good as the Nottingham one, I’m sure that business is doing rather well, or at least it deserves to be doing so.

I picked a pair of trail running shoes, but was disappointed to find that they did not have the size and colour that I was after.  Rob, the manager said that he could get them in for me within a couple of days, but I told him not to worry, as I would buy them from their website, as I wasn’t coming back into Nottingham for a while. Rob looked disappointed, as at first I thought he expected me to buy the running shoes from the cheapest competitor website I could find.  I assured him that the service had been so good at the store that I didn’t mind paying a little extra as he had won my loyalty with his level of service and i wanted him to get the credit for the sale in his figures, but it seemed I had missed the point.

It became abundantly clear that even their own website is a competitor to the off-line side to the business, because they don’t attribute the sales for their website to the store managers. “We don’t get any recognition for online sales!” he told me. “that’s ridiculous” i said, “you’ve done all the work and made this sale!”

It’s true that not all e-commerce sales are a result of off-line store activity, however, you can be certain that if you don’t incentivise your off-line store staff for online sales in some way, they will only ever see your company website as just another competitor, which will mean it never reach its full potential and this thinking also hampers your ability to become a true multi-channel business.

Looking at this problem in a pragmatic way is the only way that you will achieve multi-channel success and the Up & Running management team would do well to rethink their sales attribution model, as well is their reward structure for their staff.

The John Lewis Partnership and Waitrose faced this same issue and decided to bonus store stuff on online sales by allocating delivery postcodes to stores, which has helped them to become leaders in their respective markets.

Most retailers have since learnt this lesson and if Up & Running do the same, then their multi-channel business will start to fly, never mind run!

Image credit: Sam Beebe via Flickr (CC BY 2.0) 

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