From high-street to online retail

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Omnichannel retail From high-street to online retail

Published on 14.02.2023 by Derya Kilic, Digital Commerce Consultant, Swiss Post

High-street retail is changing and retailers must constantly evolve to keep up with the competition. What sounds easy isn’t always so simple to implement. Cost pressure, few employees, lack of expertise or slowness to act are some of the reasons why the set-up of an online business is doomed to failure. Not so with Fasnachts-Bazar, because the Lucerne-based SME has achieved what many high-street retailers can only dream of: being successful in online retail. Damian Surber from Fasnachts-Bazar tells us how it all works and what retailers need to take heed of.

Damian, you have a high-street shop in Lucerne where customers can buy your products directly in-store. What were your reasons for moving into online retailing?

It was important for us to keep up with the times and not miss the boat, so to speak. We realized that in future we wouldn’t be able to reach all target groups with the shop and that we might lose business. For example, the younger target group likes to shop online. And that’s exactly the group we didn’t want to lose, which is why we decided to embark on the online adventure. 

Have you noticed a shift of your customers to shopping online after the launch of the online shop? In other words, what impact has your online shop had on the high-street store? 

Fortunately, we haven’t seen a change in revenue, but we’ve been able to generate ‘new’ revenue by opening up fresh sales channels. So we haven’t had to deal with any slump in our high-street revenue. That of course made the whole adventure even more exciting for us. But we know from some of our existing customers that they’ve also bought from our online shop. This isn’t a bad thing for us, because we can offer our customers additional touchpoints instead of having to accept that they’ll defect to a competitor. 

Your product range offers everything in the line of costumes, make-up and fancy dress etc. How do you prepare for a day like carnival, for example, in your online shop? Can you share any advice with other retailers? 

To be honest, for us it’s the first normal carnival season after the pandemic, so we’re really excited about the response in our online shop, as it’s been in operation for just over two years now. We just hope we’ve thought of everything. This includes having enough goods and sufficient server capacity for the online shop traffic. Of course a competent customer service and a good shipping team are also essential to ensure everything runs smoothly for events like this.

In terms of logistics, you’ll probably have a lot to deal with during this time, and the number of orders to be processed will certainly be quite high. How are you preparing in this respect? Do you use any Swiss Post services to make your work easier? 

We rely on a properly-functioning storage system, well planned warehousing, the right people and, of course, Swiss Post. They collect our parcels daily and deliver them to our customers the next day.

You launched your online shop in 2020. It was a huge success. What were the key criteria to this success? What advice would you give to retailers who want to get started in online retailing?  

We were fortunate to work with very good and competent partners who have experience with online retailing. When working on a tight budget, it’s good to prevent avoidable mistakes right at the outset.  Clear cost control was very important for me. This meant I was always able to see what was still possible and whether we were sticking to the budget. Creating a customer-friendly shop, where we were able to rely on the solid know-how of our partners and the market, clearly helped. 

Tell us frankly, from your experience, what newcomers should focus on when setting up an online shop? And what can be safely left out initially?

Setting up the product data in a structured, thorough and clear way right from the start saved us a lot of work afterwards. It takes a bit of effort, but it’s well worth it. This ensures that customers are more satisfied because they’re buying something that meets their expectations, while we keep our returns rate low. And the whole endeavour is also worthwhile in terms of SEO, because as an SME, you’re happy not to have to spend money on ensuring you have good search engine positions. 

Derya Kilic

Derya Kilic is a digital commerce consultant at Swiss Post. She helps retailers to develop their digital maturity by assisting them with strategic digitization projects and helping them to develop solutions.

Damian Surber

Damian Surber is a 40-year-old family man from Kriens and has been an active carnival goer at the Lucerne carnival for over 20 years. He has worked in various areas of sales in his professional career. In 2016, he happily took on the challenge of managing the traditional Lucerne-based company and, four years later, taking it a step further into the world of online retail.

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