To stock or not to stock? (Then I may not be buying from you...so says another industry retailer)

Thanks for your brilliant response to my first blog in this series of ‘To stock or not to stock’ as an IT channel retailer.

There is a cracking column written by Greg Heil, Editor in Chief for Singletracks.com, a world famous bike magazine. Greg talks about why Bike stores need to hold stock in order to be a viable alternative to online retailers. He makes a few key points:

“If I’m walking into your shop to buy a product in the first place, I know that I may end up spending a couple extra bucks. I get that. But I’m willing to spend a little extra in order to walk in, and then walk out 5 minutes later with the new tire I need, because I just slashed the side wall on my old one.

I’m willing to pay a couple extra bucks to try the helmet on first, to make sure that it fits my head.

I’m willing to pay for the convenience and accessibility to products that your shop provides.

But if instead of having that product there for me to try, there for me to purchase in that moment and walk out the door with, if you in fact have nothing available, guess what? I’m not going to be buying from you.

The benefit of the brick-and-mortar shop when it comes to retail sales is always going to be the convenience and accessibility factors. But with the advent of Amazon Prime, in order for a bike shop to be more convenient than ordering online, you really have to work hard. You have to provide services to the customer, like the opportunity to dial in the right sizing, get hands-on with a product to see whether or not it lives up to the customer’s expectation, and of course, be able to sell the product to that customer the same day.”

(You can check out his blog here to read about the similarities in our respective industries)

There are a lot of parallels between our industries and when reading this it reminded me of the many times I ask to see something in a computer store and the reply is, “I can get that in for you if you would like?” I’m sorry, but this doesn’t cut the mustard moving into 2017.  Omnichannel retailing is the way forward and with GFK reporting that Millennials are now ‘Webrooming’, a process of looking at things online and then going in store to make the final purchasing decision the customer is certainly king, holding all the power and primed for in store purchasing.

When I speak to retailers the two key reasons most state as to why they avoid carrying stock is a misconception that price is the consumer’s most important factor when buying, and the fear of buying stock that won’t sell. Let’s look at these one at a time, at this year’s Network Group January Vision event, one of the key mini sessions was around building a plan to compete against Amazon. The truth is the customers in your stores are looking for solutions and the key you hold is being able to deliver those solutions to them today. Telling them that you can order something in for them is no better than pointing them to Amazon directly. In fact, if they go to Amazon directly, it could be argued to be more convenient, with them getting free delivery straight to their house or place of work. If you speak to most consumers they are willing to support their local stores, but it’s a two-way street. In order for you to gain their trust and their custom you will need to make their lives easier.

The other challenge was buying stock that might not sell. This is one area where Network Group looks to seriously help its members. If you are a retailer looking to take stock of anything from the latest gaming laptops, or perhaps thinking of stocking a full range of printers, we can get this stock to you as sale or return, and in some cases have our vendor partners pay you to have a range of their products on display.

If you are a UK computer retailer and looking for new ways to grow in the coming months, get in touch. I love to hear from retailers and am always happy to talk ‘shop’ over the phone or a coffee.

In the meantime, what are your greatest high street challenges? I am looking for ideas for future blogs, so get in touch and I’ll be sure to answer your questions!

Author - Craig Hume, Network Group director and owner of Utopia Computers