While eCommerce continues to grow at a rapid rate, brick-and-mortar stores are coming in strong. Shoppers are clearly indicating that while they like making purchases from their living room past midnight, they also appreciate being able to stop in a store and see in person what they’re buying.
As a traditional retailer, looking to take advantage of renewed consumer interest, you can take some tips from your online competitors. An online store is obviously different from a retail store in many ways. But, they share the common goal of selling a product to a customer they hope to retain. And, online businesses have taken some new approaches that can easily translate to a traditional brick-and-mortar store. So let's take a look at some lessons you can apply today.
Initially, online stores were modeled after mail-order catalogs. They had listings of products and a clunky checkout system. However, they’ve been quick to improve the processes as technology enables faster displays and slicker ordering systems. Online businesses became sophisticated in collecting data and using it to test and improve new ways of connecting and retaining customers.
One of the biggest risks for an online business is that a customer will get frustrated with the experience and just click away. That’s why they spend a lot of time upfront making sure that the website is attractive so that customers will stay on the site longer. And then, they spend a lot of time testing the site and going over it to make sure that customers can easily navigate through the site and find what they’re looking for.
How is your usability? Appearance and being able to navigate easily matter for local stores also. Being attractive, clean, and well organized helps to get customers in the door and keep them there longer.
Take a note from the online stores and test your user experience. Put on your customer's shoes and take a walk through the process of shopping at your store. Are the aisles clear and open? Is it easy to find what you’re looking for? Do you have the items people want accessible? Are your displays inviting?
Once people have what they need, how easy is it for them to check out? Can you accept all forms of payment? Do you have updated equipment? Nearly 70% of US retailers offer contactless payments, which matches consumer demand. Having top-notch payment processing equipment ensures that customers will be able to make purchases quickly and without frustration.
Online retailers have gotten very good at giving consumers more opportunities to make purchases. That means larger orders per customer. For instance, you click to look at one item and you see a list of others you might also like. That would be an upsell. When you put something in your cart and you get an offer to buy something that goes along with it, like buying a razor and getting an offer for shaving cream, that’s a side-sell. Or you’re getting ready to leave but you haven’t made the purchase, and then the suggestion pops up to buy something less expensive. That’s the down-sell.
It’s easy for online retailers to make these added offers because they can use technology to automatically make suggestions. But you can adapt the concepts for your retail store by using your displays and store layout.
Have staff ready to make suggestions as well. Let customers know what you have available and give them ideas they may not have thought of. Keep easy-to-grab, last-minute items close to the cash register to make it convenient for customers.
One of the biggest advantages for online stores is that they have massive amounts of data at their fingertips that they’re collecting with every user visit. They know instantly what consumers are looking at and what isn’t trending.
As a retailer, you can use a Point of Sale system to get similar types of data. You can use this data in many more ways than just keeping track of what you have on the shelves. Just like online businesses, you can track what’s hot and what’s not. That allows you to adjust prices accordingly and stay on top of ordering so you don’t miss out on potential sales.
A comprehensive POS system like Peak POS also includes tools for scheduling, staff time tracking, and other administrative tasks. Plus, it makes it easy to set up a Loyalty Rewards program that will keep customers coming back for more.
With technology making it easier than ever to set up shop online, you can easily and quickly expand your business to reach new customers. It’s getting the best of both worlds. You can start small with a basic website that offers a few of your most popular items or you can go big and add things online that you wouldn’t be able to offer in the store.
Having an online presence gives your customers more options so they’ll be more likely to stick with you. It is also a way to reach people who might then stop by your store or who can’t because they live too far away.