Articles

Are property websites obsolete?

Nowadays, if you are an estate agent or a lettings agent, it’s likely that you get the majority of your leads from the big national property websites. Search for properties in your area and chances are it’s Rightmove and Zoopla monopolizing those all important first positions on the results page.

There is a temptation for many smaller agents to put all their efforts into just uploading property details onto the big property portals at the expense of their own website. But your website can still be a great asset to your business, and with the direct need to generate property leads through your own website lifted slightly, it’s a perfect time to shift the focus of your website away from just generating leads to making it more about adding value for the visitor.

Good, useful content is the key, as always, and when you consider how potentially complicated and stressful it can be buying or renting property, there are any number of really useful snippets of information you could add to your website to improve the visitor’s experience.

‘How To’ guides and regular articles written by your staff, or links to articles on the websites of any professional associations or organizations that you belong to, are one quick, easy way to improve your website’s content.

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SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

What is SEO?

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Pop up shops

There are currently empty shops and retail premises in almost all town centres and retail parks, and there are calls for the government and local councils to reduce or waive completely business rates for pop up shops. This opens up  a great opportunity for new, innovative businesses to take up and use this space abandoned by more traditional retailers.

The key to opening and running a successful pop up shop is to do your research first. Check out the area you are planning to open in, talk to other businesses in the locality, check social network sites to see if there are other pop ups in the area, available parking and public transport links can be vital, make sure you check them out. Dan Thompson’s superb book, Pop up business for dummies, is packed full of useful advice on how to clearly plan out your pop up shop from the initial idea right up to opening day, well worth a read.

Once you’ve fleshed out your idea and found your premises, the next thing to do is create a ‘buzz’ through marketing and advertising. You want people to hear or read about your business and be intrigued enough to come to your pop up and have a look. Local papers and radio stations provide a great platform for raising awareness in the area, combine this with careful, sensible marketing on social networks and a mobile ready website packed with great content and product information which lets people find you while they are out and about on the high street, and hey presto – instant BUZZ.

How to start a pop up shop

Top tips on starting a pop up shop

7 export tips on setting up a pop up shop

Should retailers use pop up shops?

Are pop up shops the solution to Britain’s high street woes?

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Click & Collect

‘Click and Collect’ simply means your customer buys an item online from your e-shop but collects it in person from your physical shop.

At first hearing it sounds counter-intuitive, why would anyone bother to buy online if they were going to go to the shop anyway?

Well, the key is ‘control’. We like being in control, and waiting in all day for a delivery that never comes is an experience that too many of us have had with our online purchases, and let’s not mention ‘hidden’ premium rate delivery charges that could easily double the cost of an online purchase.

With ‘Click and Collect’ there’s no high delivery charge, no losing a day waiting in for a parcel, the customer is in control and can pick up the item at their own convenience, safe in the knowledge that the item will be there in the store waiting for them when they arrive. For the retailer, the increase in customer footfall into their shop inevitably leads to more browsing and more opportunity for additional sales.

So it’s a win-win for all involved, and the figures seems to back this up. Argos led the way in the UK, starting it’s click and collect service almost 10 years ago. Today about half of it’s £4bn sales are multi-channel. Other high street giants with their own systems include Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, Boots, Halfords, Homebase, Asos, Very, House of Fraser, and Coast. Even online retailers like eBay and Amazon have adopted click and collect services to meet customer demand.

Of course, in reality it’s not all plain sailing, some problems can be tricky to overcome. How to handle the pick up in the store can be a problem if space or staff are limited. Obviously the retailer will want the customer to spend as much time in the store as possible to improve the chance of additional impulse purchases, but the customer is choosing click and collect for the convenience so might not be happy if the pick up takes too long.

Another key problem is that customers might not collect their purchase promptly, meaning their items can sit around in the stock-room for some time, taking up space and potentially reducing cash-flow. A sensible collection policy has to be adopted to resolve this.

Good stock control is essential, of course. Where stock is handled in a single store it’s not too much of a problem, but when stock is spread across 2 or 3 different shops good control is essential to ensure not only that the customer’s purchase is in store when they arrive to pick up, but also that staff of the individual shops work together as a team and realise that click and collect benefits them all if they pull together. The increased use of smart phones for online purchases means that retailers will probably have to turn around click and collect purchases much more quickly in the future, which itself could lead to further problems, but the increase in footfall is too good to miss.

Collect+ – pickup, send or  return parcels from local shops

LCLB Parcel Guardian – parcel pickup service 

Get the best out of your click and collect service

Retailers look to Click&Collect online profits

 Click and Collect – the future for SMB retailers?

eBay and Argos announce click and collect scheme

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