Mobile-optimized ecommerce sites make it easy for consumers to find and purchase products in seconds. This can make some brick-and-mortar retailers a little nervous. The truth, however, is that consumers will continue to use both online and in-person avenues to buy products. Additionally, having a strong online presence can actually increase in-store sales!
As a brick-and-mortar retailer, there are several ways you can use your online presence to strengthen your in-store performance. Here are three:
1. Gather data about your customers’ interests
One of the primary benefits of your online presence is the ability to collect valuable data about your shoppers. Using your website as well as your brand’s social media accounts, you can easily gauge customer interests and discover which items they most want to see in store.
Author Bernard Marr, writing in Forbes Magazine, explained that big data is already helping retailers like Target make informed predictions about the coming season’s newest trends. Even smaller retailers can leverage this strategy by tracking their site analytics to see which pages are most popular with visitors and using that data to inform in-store product offerings.
For example, say you discover that the majority of your website visitors live locally and have read reviews of Converse and Toms slip-on shoes. You could thus infer that local shoppers are interested in buying slip-on shoes from these two brands, even though they haven’t yet made a purchase – possibly because they’re afraid they won’t fit or be comfortable. With that knowledge, you might increase the variety of styles and sizes of Converse and Toms slip-on shoes that you stock in your store. Additionally, you could put a call out on social media, inviting patrons to come in and try on a pair. This information can help you determine which products will be most likely to garner the most interest from in-store shoppers.
2. Forge a human connection
Your brand’s online presence can showcase the value you bring to your customers. For existing shoppers, this means continuing a conversation that began in-store. For new customers, it could mean extending an invitation to come check out merchandise first-hand, just like the slip-on shoes example mentioned above. Or, you might post a photo of a beautiful silky blouse on Facebook, and then invite shoppers to the store where they can see it on the clothing rack and feel the luxurious fabric for themselves. Retail strategy expert Bob Phibbs suggested that people are looking for a human connection when they arrive at your store. For some, that’s as simple as feeling the silk blouse they “oohed” and “aahed” over online. But for others, that can mean having a salesperson choose stylish items for them to try on – items they might not otherwise pick for themselves.
3. Bring the online experience into your store
Shoppers like to browse the internet on their mobile devices. According to Smart Insights, smartphone users spend an average of 87 hours per month browsing the web from their device. By bringing your online experience into your store, you can engage customers on multiple levels. For more information on how to make your brick-and-mortar store mobile optimized, check out our article for tips! Online shopping and brick-and-mortar experiences can positively influence one another. By forming your retail strategy around both, you’re likely to experience excellent results.