Online opportunity beckons for retailers
It used to be that local retailers faced competition from down the street or across town — now they’re up against retailers worldwide.
With the click of a button customers can order almost anything, any time, anywhere.
But brand specialists Natasha Tucker and Eve Godet Thomas think the internet actually provides a tremendous opportunity for Bermuda entrepreneurs.
“It’s not so much that Bermuda retailers are behind the times, but there are huge opportunities out there that they could be capitalising on,” Ms Tucker said. “With a push in that direction, there is a huge amount they could benefit from a business perspective.”
The two will be holding a workshop for the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce on Monday, “Cutting Through the Noise: Maintaining a competitive edge in today’s retail industry”.
Ms Godet Thomas was born in London to a Bermudian mother, grew up there, and worked for luxury fashion brands such as OutNet and Net-a-Porter. She moved to Bermuda permanently six months ago.
Ms Tucker, also a Bermudian, cofounded sustainable fashion and lifestyle company Rêve en Vert in London in 2017. After moving back to Bermuda last year, she founded The House, a coworking members space in Hamilton.
The workshop came about after the duo met with Bermuda Chamber of Commerce executive director Kendaree Burgess to share some of their experiences working in London.
“We were talking about retail here and about how much of my experience is really digital and how that is something that is still fairly new to retailers here,” Ms Godet Thomas said. “It’s obviously having a huge impact on the way people shop, everywhere, not just Bermuda. It felt like something that was particularly relevant for the retailers here.”
Ms Godet Thomas thought that some local entrepreneurs were reluctant to set up their own websites because they felt they didn’t need them.
“With an e-commerce platform they only stand to increase sales,” she said. “Shops close here at 5pm, and it’s often difficult for people to get there before the store closes. An online store is open 24 hours a day.”
When she worked at OutNet peak sales happened at 9pm, when people were settling down after dinner, and at 7am when they were just waking up.
“In the workshop, we’ll be touching on how a retailer’s website is just as much a storefront as a physical outlet,” Ms Tucker said.
Ms Godet Thomas said these days getting people into a physical store was an art form.
“When they do come through the door it has to be about more than a transaction,” she said.
“You can shop on Amazon very easily, but it’s not necessarily an enjoyable experience,” Ms Tucker said.
Ms Godet Thomas said to be successful, physical stores need to turn their space into an experience that really personifies the brand, down to the type of music that’s playing.
“A distinct point of view is important,” she said.
She said some people were also reluctant to take their business online because it’s an investment that requires development costs.
But she said: “You can glean so many insights from customers’ user journey online. With a little more education people will be able to understand the value really, really quickly.”
But they insist having an online store does not cancel the need for a physical storefront. People still love to touch and hold a product, and they love to browse and discover unexpected treasures.
And even purely online stores are turning more and more to pop-up stores and physical events to help market their products.
Ms Burgess said: “The chamber is pleased to be able to provide a forum for businesses with a retail component to gain new and valuable perspective on digital and traditional retail strategies from internationally experienced professionals.”
• Limited workshop spaces are available. Tickets are $250 for members of the Chamber of Commerce, and $300 for non-members, available at www.bermudachamber.bm</i>