Dubbo can take on the on­line stores... and win

Dubbo Photo News - - News - Com­ment by TIM PANKHURST MAN­AG­ING ED­I­TOR

THE un­veil­ing late last week of plans for a ma­jor re­de­vel­op­ment at the old Lib­eral build­ing by Steve Guy from MAAS Group Fam­ily Prop­er­ties could well be a sign of greater things to come for Dubbo’s CBD.

This news­pa­per has been ac­tively push­ing the need for lo­cal peo­ple to shop lo­cally more of­ten for as long as we’ve been pub­lish­ing.

But we can only do so much urg­ing and ca­jol­ing to get peo­ple to spend lo­cally – the so­lu­tion has to in­clude a con­tin­u­ally evolv­ing and modernising main street area, dot­ting ev­ery ‘i’ and cross­ing ev­ery ‘t’ to make sure the shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence in Dubbo has an un­beat­able ‘wow’ fac­tor.

Lack­lus­tre cus­tomer ser­vice from any one per­son in any­one store will let us all down. You only have to read the Thumbs Down that ap­pear in this pa­per pe­ri­od­i­cally to know that bad ser­vice hap­pens here.

If we want to beat Ama­zon and the other on­line be­he­moths (please name one that ac­tu­ally con­trib­utes to the Dubbo econ­omy), we have to make the lo­cal shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence bet­ter than them.

One of the most suc­cess­ful big re­tail­ers in the US at the mo­ment is Best Buy. They’re prof­itable and the com­pany share price is on the rise be­cause they’re do­ing lots of things right. They’re do­ing more than just match­ing Ama­zon’s on­line prices, they’re also mak­ing sure their cus­tomer ser­vice is spot-on.

Best Buy is of­fer­ing things that you can’t get when you buy from an on­line store in an­other coun­try, for ex­am­ple Best Buy staff are be­ing trained to pro­vide in-home in­stal­la­tions for many prod­ucts. Let’s see Ama­zon do that with one of its au­to­mated drones!

Sim­i­lar of­fers are be­ing made here in Dubbo, with at least one ma­jor re­tailer of­fer­ing to set up your big screen TV (above an ad­ver­tised price) at your home and make sure it’s prop­erly tuned.

Now that the ini­tial ex­cite­ment of on­line shop­ping has passed, shop­pers are start­ing to crave the “touch­ing feel­ing” as­pect of shop­ping in a store. They can visit a store and make sure the new shoes or dress fit, they want to see how a new kitchen gad­get works be­fore they buy, and even the good old book is win­ning over elec­tronic tablets be­cause peo­ple crave the feel­ing of the page be­tween their fin­gers.

So, once you have them in store, the next chal­lenge is to min­imise the pos­si­bil­ity of “show­room­ing”, that’s the re­tail­ing word for when some­one comes in to your store, makes sure the pair of shoes they want fit, then goes away and buys them on­line.

Give them stuff they can’t get on­line, like un­beat­able cus­tomer ser­vice and great in­store ex­pe­ri­ences.

It may not even be nec­es­sary to match or beat on­line prices. Ac­cord­ing to a new study by US ser­vice com­pany Walker, 86 per cent of buy­ers claim that they are will­ing to pay more in re­turn for a bet­ter cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence.

All re­tail­ers need to ac­cept that they no longer have ge­o­graph­i­cal bound­aries to help pro­tect them from in­ter­na­tional big busi­ness. But off­shore on­lin­ers are far from un­beat­able. We just need to be smarter, and more ag­ile, and to of­fer lo­cal shop­pers some­thing they can’t get any­where else.

Ma­jor de­vel­op­ments such as ‘The Lib­eral Build­ing Con­cept’ an­nounced by MAAS are also cru­cial to keep­ing our main street mod­ern and vi­brant. You need to add this an­nounce­ment to other big projects be­ing planned or se­ri­ously sug­gested for our CBD. As we re­ported pre­vi­ously in Dubbo Photo News, plans have been drawn up for the for­mer Harold W Tay­lor build­ing, now a Tel­stra store, for a multi-level de­vel­op­ment.

And I see that the build­ing at 1 Church Street, be­low West­pac, is be­ing sug­gested as ideal for ma­jor re­de­vel­op­ment too.

There are many other fac­tors that will help make an ir­re­sistible CBD, but for now the last I want to raise is mak­ing sure each and ev­ery ground level store brings peo­ple – and ideally shop­pers – into the main street. For a while there, a few too many main street sites were be­ing oc­cu­pied by sec­ondary ser­vice busi­nesses that didn’t re­ally need to be on the main street. Keep it real re­tail, and to the credit of the de­vel­op­ment pro­pos­als we’re cur­rently see­ing, that’s ex­actly what’s be­ing planned – stores, restau­rants and cafes that are eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble from the street, with apart­ments and/or ho­tel ac­com­mo­da­tion above.

It is good to see com­mer­cial op­er­a­tors pre­pared to get in there and make it hap­pen.

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