Why independent retailers should be optimised for mobile
A recent Ofcom report showed that the number of adults using tablets to go online has almost doubled, from 16% in 2012 to 30% in 2013. And the trend isn’t confined to younger users: 17% of 65-74-year-olds are using tablets to browse the internet.
The town of Cowbridge in the Vale of Glamorgan is home to 130 retail outlets, 116 of which are independent and include a variety of shops, eating places, hair and beauty salons. Of these 116 independent outlets, 54 have decided not to use a website to support their day-to-day business. In some cases, this appears to be because the outlet is long established and has (at present) a loyal local customer base. Increased competition – and a new generation of customers – will of course dictate the future of the longer-established outlets. With others, it seems to be a matter of apprehensiveness around set-up costs and content management.
Major brand outlets* have not been included in the analysis below; it would be unrealistic to compare their marketing resources with those of independent retailers.
Independent retailers in Cowbridge are also slightly lagging in their social media uptake, with under half owning Facebook and Twitter accounts – and some of these leaving silences of up to three months between updates.
A Friday evening tweet telling customers about a weekend handbag sale; a Saturday tweet with a last-minute offer on free range organic chicken; a Thursday evening Facebook update hailing a new cocktail menu. All great ways to strengthen a personal connection with customers and drive sales. Someone sat on the sofa browsing on their iPad can keep up-to-date with products and offers, even plan their shopping in advance.
Ofcom’s 2014 Report on Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes shows that the number of people aged 65 and over accessing the internet has risen by more than a quarter in the past year. The proportion of people aged over 65 that are accessing the web reached 42% in 2013, up nine percentage points from 33% in 2012. One reason for this is an increase in the use of tablet computers by older people aged 65-74 to go online, up from 5% in 2012 to 17% in 2013. This has helped to drive overall internet use up from 79% of all adults in 2012 to 83% in 2013. Source: Ofcom April 2014
For those wishing to take advantage of the growing mobile and iPad sector, it’s essential to demonstrate how easy and cost-effective mobile optimisation really is. We have recently started offering free advice to Cowbridge independent retailers: how to set up a Twitter account and engage directly with existing and potential customers, and how to minimise the cost of setting up a manageable website – using WordPress, for example.
We are also sponsoring the management of www.cowbridgefashion.co.uk and its social media, to help demonstrate the effectiveness of a proactive online presence.
Continuing to monitor the community’s adoption of digital marketing, we plan to conduct a survey of Cowbridge visitors to find out how they use social media as part of their shopping experience.
Richard Edwards MA
Scott Manning Associates
* Branded outlets not included in the above analysis:
W H Smith
CC (Country Casuals)
The Dog Trust