As the online giant Amazon celebrates its 20th anniversary, leading retail expert Professor Heiner Evanschitzky, professor of marketing at Aston University, has offered his advice to retailers on how they can also respond to the online challenge.

Amazon has changed the face of the industry, as well as consumer shopping habits, ‘forever’, he said. Their business model succeeds because of their size and pace of growth, but the company still has to be smart because their margins are very low, he adds.

Professor Evanschitzky suggests ways for retailers to help them adapt and survive:

Having a web presence is a must

Consumers shopping habits have changed, with online research before purchase now the norm. Without an online presence, a retailer will be far less likely to find a place in consumer thinking.

Make your store a place to get advice on products

An online presence is a necessity, but a physical presence is a strength as well, particularly with the support of a helpful and knowledgeable staff member.

Focus on a clear proposition

With online retailers able to operate on tight margins and keep even niche items in stock, a traditional retailer can no longer compete to be everything for everyone. Instead, they must focus their proposition and be specialists in their chosen area. You can never beat the cost and convenience of an online retailer, but you can provide a higher quality product and better customer service.

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