'It could be do or die': Traditional retailers must adapt to survive in changing marketplace
LONDON, ONT. -- With shoppers looking for online deals and steals on this Cyber Monday, some local businesses are finding they need to adapt to survive.
While there may be nothing quite like the experience of walking city streets and taking in the shops, businesses can no longer get by on foot-traffic alone according to women’s clothier Susan Elgie.
“We’ve done a few things. The primary one of course is creating an online store.”
Elgie owns the Frankly Scarlett on London’s Richmond Row. She’s among many smaller stores that have learned to love online sales, albeit with little choice she admits.
On this first ever pandemic-era Cyber Monday, tech expert Marc Saltzman who hosts Tech Talk on 1290 CJBK London, says it’s more important than ever for businesses to adapt to the new normal.
But even still, he points to a recent survey that found only three per cent of Canadian bricks and mortar retailers plan to expand their online presence.
“I think it’s interesting that not that many more Canadian stores are looking to sell online," says Saltzman.
"Those who do have the proper setup for e-commerce are obviously doing better than those who are not, given the pandemic, you would think this would give them the kick in the pants to embrace online shopping if they haven’t done so in the past. It could be do or die for many of these retailers.”
But moving online doesn’t necessarily guarantee success, nor does it come cheap, according to Lisa Ferguson, the owner of Hangar 9, a fashion store on Richmond Row.
“Everybody thinks going online is the answer. To be honest we had to go more in debt to develop the online platform. It’s very expensive. Big learning process for us, but we’re really proud of it.”
To make the transition to virtual easier for small businesses, Your Neighbourhood Credit Union has created a free online portal called ‘Shop Your Neighbourhood.’ It acts as a virtual shopping district according to Chief Member Experience Officer Archie Bonifacio.
“During this pandemic more and more people are looking online. More and more people are changing their habits. And the more small businesses can adapt to the changing needs of its clientele or its membership, the better off it’s going to be down the road.”
Bonifacio says in London more than one hundred local businesses are feature in the virtual shopping district.