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Published on June 22, 2009

Don't wait to jump onto Web

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Opinion

AKRON (June 22, 2009)—While sales slump for many companies in this tough, seemingly never-ending recession, there's some positive news for retailers looking to grow their businesses.


A recent survey found that a number of retail firms consider the Web better suited to combat the economic downturn than other sales channels.


The survey also ascertained that many retailers plan to invest in or at least maintain their Internet operations with an eye to capturing market share. And, in true “survival of the fittest” fashion, they see the recession as providing an opportunity to take advantage of weakened competition.


In fact, while half of the 117 online retailers responding to the survey expect overall retail growth to slow during the next 12 months, they are bullish about Web operations.


The findings, which appeared in a story June 17 on Tire Business' Web site, www.tirebusiness.com, illustrate the growing importance of online sales to retail concerns in general.


Translating the findings to the tire industry, the results reinforce the importance for independent tire dealers of having a Web presence and to be in a position to mine all of the opportunities the Internet provides.


Without such a Web component, dealers could well find themselves falling behind savvy competitors who have embraced the Internet and its sales and marketing potential.


This is especially true in today's retail tire and automotive service environment, which is being rocked by slowing sales as customers hold back on tire purchases and delay maintenance services for their vehicles.


Dealers can't afford to lose a single current—or prospective—customer because their dealerships aren't on the Web when someone goes searching for tires or automotive service.


With growing numbers of people using the Web to communicate and share experiences, dealerships not only have to be concerned about what's being said about them, but the services and products they offer—and tire retailers in general.


The survey, “The State of Retailing Online 2009,” conducted by Forrester Research Inc. on behalf of Shop.org, offered some additional nuggets that can help dealers understand better how other companies are using the Web.


Nearly 90 percent of retailers said investing in e-mail was a high priority this year, mostly to retain customers, while more than half will use e-mails to plug online promotions and product availability as well as to survey customers.


For these retailers, the Internet has become an essential tool to help them grow and run their businesses better. It should be the same for tire dealers.

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