Mark Ballett is an ecommerce expert with more than 25 years’ experience helping retailers to grow and evolve. He was Supply Director of Cable & Wireless, and CEO of several telecoms companies at the beginning of the internet era, played a leading role in an £80M broadband start up, as well as leading Norweb Telecom's growth from £10M to £100m turnover.
Happy New Year!
If you have managed to have a break over the Christmas season, no doubt you will have spent some time reflecting on the events of 2018.
I certainly have and I want to begin 2019 with a brief personal reflection on my experience of helping online retailers over the last 12 months and recommend four essential New Year’s resolutions.
Let’s begin with the bad news.
Based on what I see happening in the retail sector as a whole my conclusions are:
The UK High Street is Dying
High Street retailers are going out of business in large numbers and I can’t see any reason why this will not continue. No one knows what the UK’s high streets will look like in ten years’ time, but they will be very different to what they are today.
Ecommerce is Difficult
Online retailing is much more competitive than it used to be and having an online presence does not guarantee success or even survival.
In particular, recent changes to Google Search seem to favour bigger brands and advertisers.
The top of many search results pages are now dominated by adverts and rich snippets. If you are going to click away from Google they would prefer it if someone paid for you to do so.
Smaller businesses that are dependent on high rankings are vulnerable to these changes and need a Plan B.
Four Essential New Year Resolutions
But there is hope. “Difficult” is not the same as “impossible” and the successful small- and medium-sized online retailers in 2019 will resolve to do 4 things.
- Work to become a recognised presence in a niche market; aim to be the big fish in a small pond. If you don’t know how to establish yourself in a niche market, then the article Four Steps to Dominating You Online Niche will offer some useful insights.
- Develop a base of customers who feel a strong connection with them (because of the products they sell and the service they provide) and with whom they are able to communicate.
- When required, sell their products via eBay and Amazon as well as their own online stores.
- Learn or refine the skills they need to find new customers using search engine marketing – free listings and paid advertising.
There is a good chance that if you have been in business for a few years, then you will already be able to claim at least some of the above.
That is great, but 2019 is the year that you need to double down.
For more on this topic: Four Steps to Dominating Your Online Niche
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In the meantime, Happy New Year!