The Closing of the Net  "original and valuable"  Times Higher Education

EQUESTRIAN TRADE NEWS
MAY 2005  (47)

E-COMMERCE 

 Why WWW equals customers and cash flow

 
by Monica Horten and Anne Grigg

A friend of ours wants to buy some top brand jodhpurs. At £150 a pair, she knows that they aren't available in all saddlers. So where does she turn? Not to print magazines (she only occasionally buys one of the leisure horse magazines and flicks through it). No, as she spends all day at work on her computer, she searches on Google.

There is evidence that the Internet is taking over from television and magazines as the main way that people get their information on products and services. Research by the European Interactive Advertising Association, showed that the Internet now represents 20% of media consumption in the UK, compared with 10% for newspapers, 7% magazines, and 36% for television. In March alone, there were more than 13,000 searches for jodhpurs on Google UK.

Linking to the web

CUSTOMERS will use the web to find you. If you're not there, they will go elsewhere. You will have to consider the impact on your business. Some equestrian retailers have already recognised this trend and have set up an online shop. A few are even onto their second-generation website. This means that the websites are becoming more sophisticated and more competitive. Your online catalogue has to be slick, and you may need to add more features. For example, cross-selling riding jackets that match jodhpurs. You could also offer coupons to redeem online – and had you thought about sending those coupons via email?

Retailing advantage

RETAILERS should also give thought to their back-end systems -  the computer system that makes the ecommerce site work. Getting this process right will give you an advantage over your competitors, and will save you time and money. In the first place, choose the right shopping cart and be careful how your web developer sets it up. These days, it should be fast, and easy for you to administrate. Other things to consider are links to your EPOS system and managing despatch.

Manufacturers' benefits

FOR businesses supplying the trade, the impact of the web is equally important. For example, trade buyers use the web to research new products. In other industries, so much product research is web-based, that trade exhibitions are dying. Wholesalers and manufacturers can get real business benefits by making it easier for trade buyers to order via the web. They can also use the web for other functions such as marketing support. Consider how a portal for trade customers could grow your business, and save you time.

Thinking outside the box

WITH a bit of imagination, and good technology advice, there are many other ways that websites and e-commerce can benefit the equestrian trade. Feed manufacturers can support their retailers and end users with online self-help questionnaires and even online advice from an equine nutritionist. Horsebox and stable manufacturers could offer an online design service, which allows customers to see what they look like in different styles, colours and fittings. Breeders could take advantage of video streaming to show the movement of horses to overseas buyers – well worth the investment for competition or race horse sales.

Business synergy

WHETHER you are just starting, or upgrading, you should consider your business objectives and look at how the website will fit in. Does it help you to sell more by bringing in prospective customers, or does it take the money for you? How big a part of your business do you think it could become? You’ll need to consider how your customers currently find you and how they prefer to deal with you. Think about how you deal with suppliers or trade customers and whether a website would save you time. You should also think about your costs and cash flow, and whether there are any areas of your business where cutting costs would help. For example, what if staff had to spend less time explaining things; or what if you could collect the money more efficiently by asking for payment by credit card online and in advance! 

Special relationship

OPPORTUNITIES to build links between suppliers and the trade are legion.

Wholesalers and manufacturers could:

Make available promotional copy and product images for use in retail websites or printed literature;  Inform buyers of new product information - marketing collateral, dates of campaigns, point of sale material; Allow customers to book an appointment with your regional sales rep;

When attending a trade show like BETA, have a link to a diary enabling bookings to view products with a sales rep. This is ideal for international shows, as it breaks language/time barriers;

• Support the portal with emails to buyers, directing them to the site when new products are launched and directing them to the online appointment booking form

 

Anne Grigg runs Equus Communications, a specialist marketing company for the equestrian industry.  www.equuscommunications.co.uk Monica Horten runs e-marketing company Pragnetix. She is a journalist and a Chartered Marketer. www.pragnetix.com

 

This article has been reproduced from the Google html 'translation' of the pdf  on the Equestrian Trade News website which can be verified by a Google search. It originally appeared in the printed magazine, May 2005 issue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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