The Internet has proven to be an incredibly powerful tool for retailers of all sizes. Where breaking into the market as a small-scale producer once required a storefront and sales team as well as a production facility and supply chain, now anyone who has an idea, start-up capital, and enough entrepreneurial spirit can set themselves up as an online business.
This has led to a shake-up of the retail industry. While a relatively small group of large chains still dominate the retail market, there is also a thriving ecosystem of small businesses that are able to get by on low overhead and the strength of their products. But the internet has also produced a more competitive climate for new entrants, one in which the biggest challenge facing a growing business is finding a channel through which they can reach potential customers.
Before the internet came into wide use, most retail businesses followed a more predictable growth pattern. An enterprising clothing designer would set up shop in a particular city and start building their business’s reputation locally. If people liked their products and they were able to consistently turn a profit, they might scale up as their customer base spread, achieving regional or national significance only after years of focused effort. While the internet allows many retailers to reach out to a national audience from day one, it also puts them into competition with thousands of other small and large-scale operations right away. Even if they are able to offer lower prices or better value, without a way of reaching customers, it is nearly impossible to compete.
In recent years, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have played a vital role in providing retailers with this all-important marketing channel. Social-media savvy companies have been able to leverage the viral power of these new channels to target precise demographics in sophisticated and focused ways. While this approach has yielded a number of success stories, some industry watchers are speculating that social media may have reached a saturation point, and there are worries as well about the way poor use of social media can be damaging to a company’s brand.
This is why retailers looking for new ways of reaching customers are increasingly turning to price comparison apps. Price comparison apps aggregate millions of products from thousands of different retailers to find the best possible price, and merchants can opt to have their inventory listed on the price comparison app or website if they want their products to be included in the price comparison app’s aggregation. Because they have such high web traffic numbers, many price comparison apps also offer advertising options as well, enabling retailers to extend their reach.
These apps also provide a range of other features to help shoppers make smart choices. The price comparison tools at Yroo for example include price-tracking options that allow users to see whether a price has been going or down, and give users the option of 'favoriting' certain products so they get an alert as soon as one of them goes on sale.
There are other reasons why price comparison apps are an important part of retailers’ marketing strategies. While brick-and-mortar stores still account for the majority of sales, e-commerce is undeniably the future of retail. According to the National Retail Federation, the retail industry is growing at a steady 3-4% rate per year. E-commerce, on the other hand, is seeing growth rates of 8-12% per year — around three times as fast. This pattern may well accelerate with improved technology and generational turnover. Price comparison apps allow retailers to have the best of both worlds by enjoying a slice of the e-commerce pie while still attracting shoppers to their brick-and-mortar stores.
With e-commerce firmly established as the fastest-growing part of the retail sector, retailers that want to grow their customer base and build a sustainable business model need to find ways of turning these trends to their advantage. Partnering with price comparison apps is one way for retailers to guarantee a regular channel to customers that will drive traffic to their own websites and retail outlets, gaining access to new markets for their products.