Technological changes and fierce competition within the retail sector have made it that brick & mortars have to become creative in attracting customers. Up until now, consumers were moving their purchases online because of increased choice, flexibility, and available services, resulting in steady in-store traffic drops. In response, and to stay ahead, many retailers have curated personalized, frictionless, and interactive customer experiences.
Portrayed as digitisation’s roadkill, brick & mortars have had to rethink the role of their physical location. Recently, we published a blog discussing the importance of selling at the point of purchase for retailers. Indeed, online marketplaces have become a major channel of their own. Interestingly, one thing that is becoming more apparent is how retailers can merge their online & physical presence to create the ultimate shopping experience. More than just out of convenience for shoppers, it has surprisingly become clear that it is, in fact, possible to drive in-store sales thanks to your e-commerce.
Indeed, a shopper’s interaction with your business can start online, and then continue in your local store. In today’s connected world, the shopping trip often starts on the living room couch, on a mobile device. Omni-channel is no more a retail strategy, but the way consumers shop. Mobile responsiveness has therefore become a must in creating a seamless experience from couch to store as this channel has become an integral part of the customer’s journey.
Still, studies demonstrate that general enticements that encourage shoppers to visit brick & mortars remain matters of exclusivity, coupled with whether convenience or a perception of added value exists. Sixty-nine percent of respondents in the 2016 Brick-and-Mortar Consumer Study jointly performed by media agency Kelly Scott Madison (KSM) and ORC International ranked the ability to touch a product or try on clothing as a top-three advantage, something only a physical retailer can offer for now. Ease of item returns at physical stores takes the second place as ranked by 47% of respondents.
As we can see, online and offline retail sales have long stopped working in silos. In fact, a case study about the role of websites in the modern-day retail industry performed by the Harvard Business Review confirms that consumers browse in real life and opt to make the purchase online at a later date. This phenomenon has been referred to as showrooming.
Yet, to lure consumers back, brick & mortars have to do more than display products; shoppers are truly expecting more. However, this desire for “more” doesn’t need to be complicated – sometimes the solutions can be simpler than what we think. Undeniably, to get shoppers to come in, physical stores must create something that consumers can’t quite get online. Here are a few tips to help leverage your online presence and have it drive more in-store visits and sales to your business:
- Inform your customers of the benefits of shopping at your store
Incrementing exclusive in-store services to create extra value are the way to go to lure customers in. Offering free personal stylists, tailoring, demos, samples, and wi-fi are all great examples. Make your website visitors know that to get the full experience, they need to visit you in-person.
- In-store event invitations:
Retailers can build an engaged customer base by creating communities of loyal clients. Such communities provide tangible value that keep shoppers in stores longer, have them come back, and spread your brand story through word-of-mouth referrals. Hosting events in your retail space is a starter to create this community. Perhaps consider creating a digital invitation for online shoppers with an offer redeemable at the next in-store event as an incentive. Promote the events on your website, and tease shoppers with what they risk to miss if they skip the event.
- Offer free in-store pick up:
Click & collect, the marketing buzzword for in-store pickup, allows customers to buy online and get their order from your physical store. Having this option as free vs. home delivery gives customers an incentive to purchase online and pick up in-store, creating a strong upsell potential for your business. In 2016, more than half of online shoppers in the UK used it, and almost a third of online holiday purchases in the US were made via store pickup. The same year, 40% of UK customers picking up an order bought something extra upon their store visit. That number increases greatly over the holiday season as 69% of shoppers who used click & collect in the US last Christmas purchased additional items. Putting emphasis on the pick up experience, you can maximize upselling opportunities, and perhaps consider the same for in-store returns for stronger customer loyalty.
Without a doubt, it has become possible to drive in-store sales thanks to your business website. As for your online presence, don’t be afraid to get creative in tactics to lure customers to your physical store Nonetheless, remember that matters of exclusivity, convenience, and perceived added value are the main drivers. Craft promotions and messaging that speaks to your customer base and that will move them to take action. This will allow you to stay ahead and assure a successful start in the deployment of your omni-channel strategy.