Monday, October 20, 2008

Flash worries

Flash it a little bit like Marmite - you either love it or hate it.

We've always had a tendency to avoid using Flash. Mainly because it is harder to optimise for the search engines and also because of accessibility concerns - but also because we've never taken the time to master it.

A recent victory in the US for three blind plaintiffs (who argued the use of Flash on the retailer's website,, made it inaccessible to screen readers and thus discriminated against the visually impaired - Target will have to payout some £3.4 million) adds weight to the case against Flash websites.

So, next time your web designer mentions redesigning your website in Flash, ask them to think again.

Woe, woe & thrice woe!

Woe, woe & thrice woe (www). It's on the internet that retailers will need to focus in order to ride out the worst of the downturn.

There's little doubt that we're now in a recession, whatever the official stats tell us.

OK, so what do we do? Well, as consumers reign in their spending, and search ever harder for bargains, the evidence is that it's increasingly online that their money will be spent. Marks & Spencer are just one of many reporting a growth in online sales alongside a decline in sales through traditional retail outlets.

If this recession is longer and deeper than the optimists predict, it will see a shake out of high street retailers, but those with a strong online strategy will be better placed to survive. Indeed, it may be that for some the internet comes to replace the high street as their main outlet.

Not too long ago, a website was seen as a peripheral sales channel - an addon for the switched on retailer. Soon the bricks and mortar shop will double up as a warehouse for the online shop(s) as internet sales see a decisive shift to predominance. The high street is where the window shopping will occur while the transaction is done online.

Some smaller, independent clothing retailers have already reached this position, using ebay to shift the unshiftable and their own websites to retail to increasingly price sensitive customers. Their physical shops are now provisioning hubs for their online outlets, busy with actual shoppers only one or two days a week. Soon shop assistants had better be web aware as they will be spending a fair amount of their time online dealing with online orders and customers.

Where retails leads others will follow. Do you have an online strategy or an online shop? Whatever your answer, contact Fresh Web Services to see if we can help you ride out the recession.