IT is indeed sad that local people are following the worldwide trend and purchasing more online than on the island. (ref : A 27 per cent rise in parcels arriving in the island in four years, Manx Independent, January 17).
I personally always try to purchase locally as a priority, but often am forced to go online when the product is not available in the shops.
However the following problems exist for local businesses :
1) Particularly in Douglas, there is a shortage of parking for shoppers. I don’t know how many times I have driven around looking for a parking, usually in the pouring rain or gail force winds. Often I have just given up and gone to the warmth and comfort of my house and ordered it online. Delivery is usually within a few days and often free. The Douglas Council needs to look for extra parking / longer time periods on existing free disc parking to encourage people to drive into town to make a purchase.
2) Owners of shops need to train their staff. I don’t know how many times I have walked into a shop where the assistant is talking on the phone or to her friends, and doesn’t even greet the customers as they enter. You are very rarely asked ‘ Can I help you with anything?’ Recently a young shop assistant impatiently paused her telephone conversation for me to enquire about a product, after which I just went home and ordered it online. It is up to the owners of the shops to enforce customer service and friendliness with a smile, otherwise people will rather go online. Shop assistants must realise that if they don’t provide the service, they won’t have a job.
3) The shop landlords need to reassess rental agreements to encourage our city centre not to turn into a ghost town.
4) Unfortunately with the way the world is moving, existing businesses need to look at providing online services in conjunction with their local services to keep in business. Hopefully many will be able to do this.
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