If you spend any time researching the subject, you’ve no doubt heard the phrase “brick-and-mortar is dying” reiterated and that, beyond a shadow of a doubt, “online is the new reigning champion of retail.” While this trend toward online retail certainly skews upward, it has not yet dethroned the brick-and-mortar business. Studies have shown that yes, while online retail sales have surged to the tune of 42% in the market and account for 11.7% of total sales, patronizing brick-and-mortar businesses is still the preferred method of shopping for a staggering 78% of consumers.
The point is, don’t get stuck in the mindset that you’ve got to favor one over the other. In fact, the soundest strategy for increasing overall sales is by making your brick-and-mortar work for your online store and vise-versa.
Christopher Donnelly, Director of Digital and Commerce at Buscemi, said, “Today's consumer is demanding one thing and only one thing only from retailers. SERVICE. Not just a friendly sales staff and customer service, but everything from best in class ecommerce experiences across all devices to physical stores that create fun and exciting place to experience the brand. If you are not delivering the best service across the board you are going to be in for a tough time.”
Here are a few ways that you can stay on top of your game and maximize your online and retail sales!
Optimize Your Website (and Your Brick-and-Mortar)
You’d be surprised how many businesses don’t take the time to optimize their site for handheld devices. In case you don’t know, Google has even gone so far as to begin penalizing sites that aren’t mobile-friendly so it pays to be optimized. It’s important for your site to be device-specific, i.e., it should be able to tell what kind of device your customer is using whether it is a tablet, smartphone or desktop.
Make sure your customers can easily find and access your products and consider offering them incentives to patronize your online site. Similarly, with every online purchase, make sure your customers know that you have a brick-and-mortar retail store and urge them to come by. Make the buying experience just that—an experience. Consider holding special events, sales or offering certain amenities (think free drinks or even small finger foods) to your brick-and-mortar customers. This can be especially important if you’re transitioning your brick-and-mortar to do more showrooming.
Location-Aware Promotions Are the Future
With GPS tracking imbedded in almost every piece of tech we use, consumers are increasingly aware that they’re being tracked. While this technology began as a great way to increase the efficiency of your maps app, it’s now an excellent method for offering promotions to people who visit your site or just happen to be close to your retail business.
In a recent survey by SOTI, 65% of consumers said that they wanted some kind of location-aware coupons. If somebody within a ten, twenty or twenty-five mile radius of your brick-and-mortar visits your online store, you can send them a coupon urging them to drop by your physical storefront and get a percentage off their retail purchase.
This can work in the reverse too. For instance, if you’re trying to build business for your online store, give someone an online-only coupon after they pay a visit to your brick-and-mortar!
Make “Omnichannel” Your New Mantra
If you’re not waking up everyday, gazing into your own reflection in the mirror and repeating the phrase “omnichannel,” you’re doing it wrong.
Okay, maybe this is a little extreme… but not by much.
If you’re not sure what omnichannel retailing is, you’re probably not alone, but here’s a quick overview direct from Wikipedia: “Omnichannel retailing uses a variety of channels in a customer's shopping experience including research before a purchase. Such channels include retail stores, online stores, mobile stores, mobile app stores, telephone sales and any other method of transacting with a customer.”
Basically, it means don’t venerate one method of obtaining sales over another. Instead, make sure you’re using every avenue to reach your customer. This includes your website, your brick-and-mortar, email marketing (which is still not dead) and SEO/SEM.
One of the worst things you can do as a business is try to put all of your energies into one method. By ignoring the myriad ways you can maximize your sales, you’re not only doing a disservice to your business but to your customers as well.
It’s tempting to want to begin trading bricks for clicks but increasingly studies are showing that the best way to boost your sales is by making sure all facets of retail presence are being fully represented. Don’t give up on your brick-and-mortar just because you start seeing an uptick on your online store, instead, find ways to increase sales across the board. The reverse is the same too. Optimize your online presence to work in sync with your storefront, and you’ll be sure to see success!