Online sales - profit or resistance?

2nd of February 2018 Article by Jacco Vonhof
Online sales - profit or resistance?

Internet sales are continuing to rise, but is our cleaning sector sufficiently involved? Are we aware of the dos and don’ts? Jacco Vonhof, chairman of VSR and ECJ blogger reports from a recent seminar on the effective use of online sales.

There are still many gains to be made. For instance, the consumer market is already using the Hiku – a smart refrigerator magnet, which is used to scan or dictate products onto your shopping list. And Ikea is experimenting with virtual reality. Before placing your order, you can use virtual reality to check whether a small table actually does look good in your home.

Amazon is working on technology which places products ready for you, even before you order them – by getting to know you as well as possible. Retail sites (eg. for books) which recommend products on the basis of previous order behaviour,are nothing new anymore. Technology is developing at lightning speed.

Combine this technology with behaviour-influencing mechanisms, and the world is your oyster. Many people when faced with it think: “What I buy is my own business. They already know too much about you.” It is mainly the generations prior to the Millennials who are wary. However, what many people don’t realise is that they are already part of this new economy, each day.

The CleanDeal online cleaning products shop is – in my opinion – a good example of an online shop which uses new technology and responds to people’s behaviour. For instance, € symbols are deliberately omitted from prices, as this causes clients to focus less quickly on the cost. The company also places products in the shopping basket in a specific manner to encourage you to make further purchases.

In addition, they are continuously analysing: how do clients respond to emails? Can they find their way on the website? This makes online shops labour intensive but – potentially – gives high returns in the form of advertising. Indeed, surveys following an online campaign showed that for each Euro spent on advertising, €9 were earned. That is more profitable than a flagship store.

Much can be learned from the experience of this kind of pioneer. For instance, CleanDeal’s target group turned out not to be the medium-sized cleaning companies expected, but instead the vets, tattoo shops and bed & breakfasts which found their way to the site.

Also, the company was not properly prepared for use of the website on mobile devices, and did experience some fraud. So, our advice is: just start, but start small. This will allow you to experience the reactions of the market, so you don’t invest too heavily without knowing the possible effects.
Finally, I too sometimes wonder: Are we being misled? Is my privacy at stake? The conclusion seems to be that the world is simply changing. Don’t think it won’t happen, anticipate it. That way you won’t be left standing on the sidelines.

•The Association of Cleaning Research (VSR) is the independent platform, and knowledge and research institute for professional cleaning in the Netherlands.

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