Do you remember when, just a few short years ago, everybody was talking about the imminent and inevitable death of the retail store? Despite all forecasts of doom and gloom, 2016 is now halfway through, and the retail store is still here — and not planning to go away anytime soon.
This doesn’t mean, though, that the retail business hasn’t changed. The industry is now completely different from what it was just few years ago. Retailers who want to stay in the game need to get out of their comfort zone, and learn to follow their customers where they are, in and out of the store. Even though e-stores have not replaced brick-and-mortar shops, success in the retail world is more and more dependent on retailers’ ability to offer a complete, coherent and exciting shopping experience across the channels.
If you are already offering an online and offline shopping experience, you may be wondering how you can drive more online customers to your stores. Why should you want to increase foot traffic in your physical locations? There are many very good reasons to do so. Touching and feeling the merchandise increases sales, according to research. Showing online shoppers your great one-on-one in-store customer service and 360-degree brand experience, you may manage to turn them into loyal customers or even brand advocates.
Whatever your reason, here are five tested strategies to help you drive some of your online customers into your brick-and-mortar stores.
Click (at home) & Collect (in-store)
Studies show that Click & Collect (buying online and picking up in-store) is the best tool to drive shoppers back into your physical store. Click & Collect is a very popular service; customers appreciate the convenience of picking up deliveries in store when they want, rather than having to wait for a home delivery. Click & Collect is also convenient for the retailer: according to UPS’s 2015 research Pulse of the online shopper, 45% of customers who go to a store to collect items they ordered end up spending extra money in impulse buys once there.
On-line searches of in-store inventory
Offer customers a search engine of your in-store stock in your app and e-commerce site: you will at the same time give your customers a service they desire, and increase foot traffic in your shops. Make sure to include all relevant information: it should be easy for people to check where the products they want to buy are available in the desired size, color and specifications. Don’t forget to include driving and walking directions to your stores, and clearly mark your opening hours. The easier you make it for customers to visit you, the more people will come to your store.
Special offers, promotions and events
Do you want to create an online-to-offline spillover? Give your customers vouchers which can only be redeemed in-store. Don’t limit the offers to discounts or free items – think creatively. Why not send customers vouchers that entitle them to free, limited experiences? These could be anything from a free beauty treatment or make up session, to a cake decoration course, to a seasonal pre-sale, or a special catwalk for loyal shoppers only.
Make sure that you collect the data and information of participants. By analyzing the success of these promotions you can gain a clearer view of how digital engagement drives your in-store revenue.
In-store returns = extra sales
Customers love being able to return online purchases in-store rather than having to send them back via mail or courier. In-store product returns are also a revenue driver: a 2015 research reveals that 70% of shoppers who return items in a physical location end up purchasing something else – making in-store returns a true win-win for retailers.
E-commerce websites and apps are a goldmine of customer info: from geographical areas to gender and shopping patterns, retailers today have access to an unprecedented amount of knowledge about their customers. Why not use this intelligence to offer a more personalized and relevant experience in store? You could for example send notifications to your customers’ mobiles to alert them about new products they might be interested in, or discounts for products they often buy. It pays off to make your customers feel special by showing that you know them: a recent study revealed that people spend more when they are offered a personalized shopping experience.
Your mobile and online platforms can be a great tool to drive customers to your physical stores. Create an integrated strategy and make sure that your customers have a great shopping experience, whenever and wherever.
Need more insights into how to boost retail sales? You might be interested in the following articles:
To succeed in retail, put the customer in the driving seatDoes your old school tech turn off customers?4 ways that disparate retail systems can stifle business growth
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