Shopping has changed. With the advent of mobile and internet shopping, as well as companies like Amazon, the face of retail is changing. Case in point, the removal of Amazon devices from Target stores due to "showrooming" and promoting in-store presence for online purchase. The digital revolution is very much upon us. The question is, how will you adapt to avoid being pushed aside by someone who does it better?
The answer, or one of them, is marketing automation. It gives you the ability to reach out to consumers over several channels at once, or even one for each group, and offer unique deals, as well as integrate other programs and features into your automation. You can also track and target customers based on their actions and history. In fact, it gives you a faster reflex time when customers are angry or upset, or when they need something specific. Retail needs to be adaptive, accessible and user-friendly.
Most retail outlets have some kind of online strategy, although in many of those cases the retail "strategy" is just to have an online store. After all, build it and they will come, right? But those online stores often lose to companies like Amazon, Steam and others who have a unique engine, membership and membership benefits, as well as the flexibility to offer lower prices. It's certainly not that Amazon offers less brand names, they just ship direct. They don't have to pay for packaging, shipping or even the staff to unpack several times over. They ship once and then it's over for them. The question is, how can a physical store compete?
More and more, it's looking like the answer to that is a simple one. They can't. Instead, they have to have similar offerings. And while SimplyCast can't help you set up an online storefront, we can help you market your unique programs, no matter what they are. So here are some ways that you can push your online store and start winning back some of your market.
1. Run a special loyalty program, specifically for online shoppers. This will make them feel unique and valued, and will keep them coming back to the same site. As they do this, they will also recommend the site to their friends. The loyalty program gives them a chance to earn some kind of in-store credit, which they can then spend on other items. This makes them more likely to continue purchasing, as they want to bank points for that one big ticket item, or help alleviate holiday costs, whatever the case may be.
2. Big business needs to examine local and promote it more. The cost of your items can be easily undercut by online shippers who send direct because of the lack of back and forth while being handled and brought to your individual locations. When considering produce and other locally manufactured products, consider buying national at least and closer to home where possible. This will allow you to compete more completely with other bigger outfits. For those businesses that do boast local products, promote them. Make a point of saying that your offerings are grown/built in your area. People will appreciate it.
3. Focus on the customer experience. If there's one thing big online stores with no physical element cannot claim, it's that they don't have anyone to ask advice from or to compare things with. They don't have an engaging human element until something has already gone wrong. So emphasize that. Build a fantastic customer experience with follow-up surveys, emails to let customers know when a new product launches, special sale programs and loyalty bonuses as well as a friendly, knowledgeable staff. Build your community, and the good will of your patrons will carry you far into the future. Give young people their start working for you, treat your customers exceptionally and offer outstanding support and knowledge throughout the buying process. Keep in touch with them to ensure that things are working well and have a proactive customer support team, not a reactive one. The payoff will be worth it.
4. Encourage online traffic in order to display your own online offerings, and ensure that certain deals are exclusive to your web page. This will ensure that you pick up some of that online traffic. You won't be able to beat the prices on sites that ship direct, but you will be able to join them sometimes. And you will be able to show people that the same convenience is available to them, but with better customer support. You can do this by...
5. Offering customer support for online orders at your physical locations, and having a terminal or two available in each department for orders to be placed after consulting with a knowledgeable staff member. This way, customers feel that your online offerings are safer, and will be more willing to pay the extra for the service you provide before and after the purchase. As an added bonus, you'll be able to offer even more products, and carry less in-store stock, meaning you can diversify your offerings even more by simply integrating your online store into your physical location. It also means you may not need as much space, saving money and giving your customers a more efficient retail experience.
As always, these are only a few of the possibilities surrounding retail marketing strategy and how you can improve your retail location to be the best of the best. Macy's was eventually overtaken by stores like Target and WalMart, and now those stores are being outplayed by the online market. The adaptability problem applies to stores big and small, but this scenario is the most obvious available example. The tips here will help you adjust the solution to preserve the physical storefront and customer service experience, while allowing you to adapt to a changing digital age and a convenience-focused consumer base. As always, you can check out our retail page for more tips and tricks as well as other related posts, and our marketing automation page to see our full list of features and pricing. This could even give you still more ideas as to your retail marketing adaptation strategy moving forward.