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The online challenge

Now many years on since the birth of the internet we find that consumers are starting to trust it more and more with online purchases.  How is this trend affecting the local bricks & mortar music shop up the road?

To the general public the internet holds the answer to a growing culture of information and products on demand, however to the retailer the internet is both a blessing and a curse.

On the one hand it gives a fantastic opportunity to have a 24hr world wide presence and on the other, as competing sites try to attract business, there has never been more pressure on driving down the price.

Good news for the consumer, well maybe.. but with more than 150 Australian music retailers between 2013 – 2014 closing their doors (of course not exclusively due to the internet) what does it say for the future of the industry?

I think it’s fair to say that due to the internet, the retail business model leading up to the year 2000 and even as late as 2005 has changed forever and wont ever go back to the way it was.

So what is the future for the shop around the corner and what is the way forward?

As customers:

There is a danger in losing our wonderful local music shops close to where we live if we keep sending our purchasing dollars out of the country via overseas websites.

I know it’s impossible to pass up a really great deal, but let’s at least have a chat with the locals before we send our dollars off to another country and see what they can do.

If your store is feeling the pinch … a few thoughts from our web design department :

The internet can do a lot for your store but you do need to have a expectation based in reality. Just like your bricks & mortar store, you need to put in the hours and promote your website to your target market and spend time building trust.

One big mistake that stores make is thinking that as soon as they fire up their new online shop the sales will start rolling in from around the country. The smarter way to go is to begin with existing customers and build from there…

You could try the following…..

  •  Before your customers leave your shop make sure you have shown them your new website and created an online account for them:  You could have a computer terminal setup on the shop floor that is locked on your new website and customers could ask any security questions about buying from you online. This gives you a chance to allay any fears they may have about trusting your online checkout……Customers are more likely to buy from a website they know & trust.
  • Make sure your website looks & feels like your shop and avoid the mistake of having a generic template that looks anonymous:  Customers like your shop that’s why they come and see you, so make sure they feel the same way on your website.
  • Keep local information on your website:  You started your music shop because at some point you fell in love with music. It was your local shop that sold you your first guitar and showed you how to tune it, re-string it and where to learn how to play it. Also the good ones would have had a notice board where you could find other musos to jam with.  These are all great points of information to give away on your website that will keep people coming back to it.
  • Make sure all your stock is online: This is a big one, and takes the most time, but you only have to do it once and then just keep it up to date.

The future could be good…

There is no doubt that the retailer’s tree is being shaken by the internet but a lot of those falling off are ones that are not evolving with it and the ones that remain will enjoy a much more streamline way of doing business that addresses all the needs of the customers.

Please feel free to jump in and leave a comment, it would great to hear from the combined wisdom of the industry on this.

© 2015, Musictech Australia. All rights reserved.

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Damien J Cotton

DJ has been a music producer since the late 90's. He has designed and built several recording studios and produced many artists across the entire musical spectrum with a focus on R&B and electronic music. As a multi instrumentalist & music educator DJ performs throughout Australia both as a session musician and teaching & lecturing on music technology in various schools & private studios.

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