It's not a nice start to the year when a well known High Street chain goes bust and more than a thousand people lose their jobs with only a few hours notice.
There are clearly many reasons for Jessops' downfall, but e-commerce has played a key part.
Or rather, a poor e-commerce strategy has played a key part.
You see, Jessops had an e-commerce presence, just not a good strategy.
Their high street shops were always busy (and notoriously understaffed but that's beside the point) so I don't think the popular argument that camera phones destroyed demand for cameras holds much weight. Yes, it obviously affected the industry, but possibly even for the better. These days it seems that everyone is a budding photographer.
If camera phones really were a big problem for them, they'd have just expanded into selling cameras phones too. They're not that stupid!
The problem wasn't quality either. They were the only remaining high street photography chain that still did high quality matt photograph developing, rather than switching exclusively to low quality gloss photographs like Boots et al.
The biggest problem was that people were going into the high street Jessops stores, getting lots of advice, handling the cameras and basically working out exactly which camera they wanted, and which accessories. They then make up some excuse, leave without buying anything, then finding it cheaper at an alternative online store and buying it online at a huge saving.
So am I saying that they should've reduced their prices to compete with the online-only stores?
If that's not their strategy, then competing purely on price probably would've destroyed the company even quicker.
What I am saying is that their e-commerce offering should've been a higher focus for the company.
Only the previous week, the clothing retailer Next, and the department store John Lewis released some truly astounding e-commerce results over Christmas. And their e-commerce presence probably contributed to the success of their high street stores too, rather than taking away from them.
So you don't have to be an e-commerce-only company to compete these days. You just need a good strategy. You need good marketing. You need to know where your customers are online. You need to know why they are online. You need e-commerce to be part of your company, not just an afterthought.
John Lewis and Next didn't just create an e-commerce website and hope for the best. They didn't just pump a load of money into Google Adwords and expect the sales to come flooding in.
They made sure that if people went into their stores and left with the intention of buying online, that their online stores were at the forefront of everywhere they looked.
Many commentators have said that the internet will kill the high street because people can buy things online. It would be very easy for us, as e-commerce specialists, to agree with this. But it's cobblers!
The high street will not die, but it will be changed, possibly unrecognisably so. The only thing that will die will be the companies that do not adapt to the changing world and either embrace it, or come up with a viable alternative.
OpenGlobal E-commerce are e-commerce specialists, so unlike almost every other web designer around, we know that merely opening an e-commerce website isn't going to work for your company. If your current web designer is just advising you to advertise on Google Adwords, you need a better strategy. If your web designer has run out of ideas, you need to speak to OpenGlobal E-commerce today to make sure that you don't go the same way as Jessops.