Specialised stores are the future of online shopping, says Brand Hubb CEO
Online retail sales have gone through the roof since the pandemic struck, accelerating a trend that was already well-established in the years leading up to the crisis. The 88% spike in gross merchandise value achieved by Takealot.co.za in the half-year to September 2020 is proof that an era of digital is upon us… Traditional retailers can also confirm the trend, with general retailer Woolworths reporting a triple digit growth in online food and clothing sales in the second half of last year.
The pandemic created a perfect storm for digital retail platforms as consumers avoided in-store interactions and became more confident in seeking out expert advice online. “Millennials and high-income earners are at the forefront of the digital shopping movement; but they exhibit some very specific quirks,” said Rob Anderson, CEO at Brand Hubb. One of these is that they are more inclined to purchase aspirational or luxury products online; another that they favour specialist digital stores over generalist stores like Makro or Takealot.
“There is rising demand for specialist digital retail outlets that allow shoppers immediate access to their intended purchase rather than spending hours trawling through online catalogues,” said Anderson, who identified two main types of specialist stores, namely brand-focused or category-focused. The brand-focused concept is self-explanatory and involves stores that offer own-branded merchandise.
“Consumers that have their mind set on an Acer laptop, Candy appliance, DJI drone or OZtrail camping product get far greater sales assistance and satisfaction when they purchase directly from the brand,” he said. Brand Hubb has a multi-year track record of managing brand-focused specialist retailers, starting with the four brands just mentioned.
A category-focused specialist digital retailer gives consumers a single access point to shop for a product category across multiple different brands. “If you want an angle grinder, fitness gear, gaming products, printer, television or washing machine then it can be helpful to visit a digital platform that allows you to compare these items across brands,” said Anderson. Brand Hubb’s expanding network of specialist product category stores includes 3D Store (3D printers) and Fit Time (fitness monitoring products) and will soon be opening new online stores focusing on appliances, audio products; baby products and toys; beauty products; DIY equipment; and gaming products, among others.
Brand Hubb specialises in creating turnkey brand-focused digital stores for leading brands that are keen to enter the specialist digital store world, but do not have the human resources to build and manage their own solution. Already a leader in innovative brand-to-consumer loyalty programmes, Brand Hubb also assists brands and product manufacturers to find appropriate digital channels that give consumers a product-focused specialist store experience. “We empower brands to reward their customers by offering a seamless digital shopping experience of the brand’s own making,” said Anderson.
A digital retail platform is a ‘must have’ for any brand or product manufacturer that wants to grow brand recognition, market share and product sales in the digital age; but many smaller brands and niche or speciality retailers struggle to find the capital and human resource needed to build and manage their own bespoke digital shop. The good news is that the technology that created the problem also enables the solution. “I would like to invite brand and business owners who need help with setting up and managing a digital store to engage with us,” said Anderson. “We are the ‘go to’ service provider for those keen to establish a turnkey digital shopping platform that will place their business in the sweet spot of the online retail revolution”.
“If you are a brand or product manufacturer that is interested in growing your digital presence, then Brand Hubb is perfectly positioned to guide you to the right solution,” concluded Anderson. He observed that specialist stores on the Brand Hubb platform offered a win-win for both brand and consumer: The brand gets to grow its digital presence and improve brand awareness, market share and sales while the customer has an easier time finding the right product or solution online.