E-commerce is endangering brick and mortar retail stores. This isn’t news but the effects of e-commerce even small retailers already feel e-commerce’s effect. Some even pack-up shop in order tocrossover or focus on the online market. But there are ways to use e-commerce strategies to drive foot traffic to local stores. As much as people think that e-commerce is a whole new industry, it still uses tried and testing retail marketing strategies. That’s why the tips and suggestions found in this article don’tonly apply to brick and mortar stores – consider these e-commerce marketing tips that also can help a bolster a store’s online presence and even sales.
#1 – Offer New Product Delivery and Shipping Options :
Delivery time and shipping options affect customer decision and loyalty. 87 percent of online shoppers’ factor-in delivery time for repeat purchase with an e-commerce site. But how does this affect brick and mortar stores?
Let’s look at this in the context of competition. Showroomingis a real phenomenon in retail where someone browses the shelves of a local looking for an item – only to check its price and then proceed to purchase the same item online. This is certainly a bad thing for brick and mortar stores. Showroomers increase foot traffic but don’t really bring value to the business. It can also come to a point wherein they won’t go to the stores at all and just use online comparison sites. Thankfully, there are ways to adapt and even go a step further in the game.
#2 – Buy Online, Pick-Up In-Store
BOPIS is a strategy that worked wonders for major retailers. Busy customers can shop for items they want online and pick their purchase later on in the store. According to a shopper survey, 57 percent of shoppers in the US prefers a BOPIS shopping option because of the following reasons:
- Cheaper delivery costs
- Easy returns
Customers no longer wait for days before the item arrives. They can just drive to the store outlet near them, pick up the item and then go. And since they can browse online at their leisure, they no longer need to spend a considerable amount of time browsing in the store and even store-hopping searching for an item. Another advantage is that they can enjoy the online shopping experience without the hassle of returning damaged or wrong items. Customers can see and check the tangible product before bringing it home.
This delivery option also has several benefits for store owners. You can use BOPIS to run online-only promos and offers that can create excitement around a certain product and consecutively drive more foot traffic to the store. You can:
- Offer online-only sales, bundles, and exclusive items
- Enable online product reservation
- Provide same-day pick-up
But before offering a BOPIS option, make sure that your store and staff are ready for an influx of BOPIS customers. First and foremost, the shopping experience should be seamless both on the technology and physical store side. Make sure that the in-store and online inventory are in always in sync and/or regularly updated. You can use a multichannel integration platform to make the process easier and error-free. On the store side, provide clear directions and prepare a designated BOPIS pick-up area.
Your train your sales staff beforehand on how to handle BOPIS customers. They should know how to handle complaints, especiallywith product defects. Make sure that your return and/or exchange policy is beneficial for all parties involved so that the chance of losing a buying customer is low.
#3 – Hands-Free In-Store Shopping
One of the most appealing aspects of online shopping is having your order delivered right to your doorstep. This is especially convenient when you are purchasing items in bulk. Just the thought of loading and unloading items to and from the car makes a lot of people feel exhausted.
This trend is quite prevalent nowadays that some brick and mortar stores developed ways to adapt. One of these ways involvesthe charm of in-store shopping minus the hassle of shopping bags: hands-free store exit. Give your customers an option to have their purchased items delivered right to their doorsteps – right after they step out of your store. You can offer a free delivery option for a minimum amount of purchase or for every purchase of participating products. Just make sure to advertise this option on check-out counters or better still, online. This strategy doesn’t not only increase foot traffic but also enhance the in-store experience.
Run App/Mobile Promos with In-Store Redemption
You can also run mobile marketing promos through your store’s app or mobile website. These promos don’t need to tie-in with a BOPIS strategy. The most effective way to implement mobile promos like this is to run SMS marketing campaigns. This is an effective strategy, especiallythat SMS has an 82 percent open rate in the US alone. A majority of website traffic also come from mobile devices and if you add how mobile users spend more than four hours a day on their devices, you’ll have an effective way to drive foot traffic to local stores.
The first step is to collect phone numbers or leads followed by mass-sending in-store redeemable promos (coupons, codes, etc.) to your leads. There are two main ways which you can immediately collect leads for this purpose:
- Ask customers to sign up foryour mobile website/app using their phone number. You can also ask them to opt-in for newsletters and/or updates. Incentivize as needed/possible.
- Run a Facebook Leads Ads campaign. You can offer limited offers or discounts to entice customers to sign up. This would be the faster way especially if you optimize your ads’ delivery since it doesn’t depend on your website/app’s traffic.
Remember that you should regularly update your list so that you can continually use it to increase foot traffic to your store.Also,create seasonal promos to further increase foot traffic during peak shopping times of the year.
Create Store Inventory Availability Status Updates
If you are not ready for BOPIS just yet, you can still make your products available online for customers to browse and check. But wouldn’t you just lose them because they can’t buy these items online? That’s a commonbelief but customers don’t exclusively search on online shops. Customers search for products online to:
- Find more information about the product
- Compare product prices
- Read product reviews
As convenient online shopping is, there are more benefits in shopping locally. This is especially true for products that are difficult to return/refund. Examples are hygiene products and food. Most customers would opt on purchasing in-store if the prices are lower, if the online delivery cost sound impractical, or if they have bad experiences with delivery delays from e-commerce sites. Brick and mortar stores would have an advantage in terms of delivery since you can only get what you can see onthe shelves.
But in order to convert online shoppers to your store, you need to let them know that the item they are looking for is available in your store. One way to do this is to provide an online product inventory with updated stock availability statuses. Just like with the BOPIS options, you can use a multichannel integration platform to make sure that inventory in your store’s website is in-sync with your physical inventory. You should specify the availability status of the item like the number of stocks left, if it is out of stock, or if you are restocking soon.
Aside from this, you should provide information about your store like address (make sure that there is an active store locator onyour website), phone numbers, and other contact information.
Categorize your product inventory based on their type and arrangement in the store. Group products that are in the same aisle/department in the store. Make the process easier by providing clear signages and direction cues in your store. You’d not only want to increase foot traffic, you’d want to retain the traffic you already have so you should make the shopping experience easier especially to those who came from online shopping.
Optimize Store Page for “Near Me” Searches
So, you already had your in-store inventory available online but is it appearing insearch results that matter? You need a local e-commerceSEO strategy. Optimize your business page for it to appear (and rank) in local searches especially in “near me” searches. Near-me searches provide location-based search results. Users often use near-me searches to search for local business recommendations or local destinations of interest. About 88 percent of all near-me searchesare done on mobile devices.
These searches are a great way to attract new customers but geographic proximity isn’t the only factor for ranking in near-me search results. It’s even possible that your store may not rank at all! You can prevent this from happening by optimizing for local search. You can do this by doing the following local e-commerceSEO strategies:
- Make your site mobile-ready.
- Use location-specific keywords on your website’s metadata. This optimization strategy is one of the easiest to implement and one of the most effective.Be careful not to go overboard or it could work the other way for your website. You can use place names, landmarks, and/or phrases like “restaurant in Dublin CA.” The keywords should be specific enough to specify it from similar place names.
- Create a Google My Business Make sure to verify your business with Googleand regularly update your listing’s information especially the store hours. Respond to reviews and present high-quality snapshots. The listing alone will help you rank in local searches with the bonus of directions to your store via Google Maps.
- Encourage customers to give your business a positive review on Google Reviews. Unsurprisingly, Google places more weight on reviews from their own platform. Responding to reviews can improve your business’ ranking in local search results
- Build backlinks with geographic anchor text. The number of geographic backlinks can influence your page’s ranking in SERPs. Geographic backlinks should include the location of your business whether it be the state, city or town (it would be better if the state and city are both included).
Localize Digital Ad Campaigns
Aside from the local e-commerceSEO strategy for your business page, you also need to run localized ad campaigns. A marketing campaign isn’t complete without digital ads. Make sure that you allocate a portion of your marketing budget for digitals ads. A lot of your prospective customers are online so you need to go where they are instead of the other way around.
And since you aren’t selling items online, it is important that you reach prospective customers in the early stages of the sales funnel. One way to do this is to target people with search queries that use “buying keywords.” These keywords signal buying intent.
Run local search ads in AdWordsor add a location extension to your existing ad campaigns. This extension will allow you to add location details to your ads including your business’ address and Google map directions. You can also implement Local Inventory Adswhere you can show ads with local stock availability details. The ads redirect to a Google-hosted page for your store called “local storefront.” Aside from the in-store inventory, you can also provide information on store hours and directions on the storefront. This can help drive foot traffic coming from visitors or newcomers in your area.
Organize In-Store Events and Community Activities
Shopping is an experience, as they say. Even window shopping is pleasurable for many. The ability to give this experience to customers is a big advantage for brick and mortar businesses. E-commerce shops can organize community events but it would still be different to be in an event, socializing face to face with people you share interests with.
You can organize different types of events but first, you need to make sure that you are aware of your store’s demographics. Make sure that you will attract people that can become your customers and not just event attendees. Also, make sure that the event you organize isengaging and interactive. Don’t just rely on the pop-updisplays/stands and signages. Create the appropriate ambiancefor the event. Rearrange the displays if possible and make sure to properly highlight products of interest.
Improve and Optimize In-Store Experience
At the end of the day, customer satisfaction and loyalty still hingeon the quality of their shopping experience. Take note of the factors that compel customers to shop online instead of walking around the block to a local store:
- Price difference
- Product availability
- Product placement/ease of shopping
- Free shipping and delivery options
E-commerce shops are available 24/7, some items are cheaper, and you can access everything with just a click. Brick and mortar stores still havea lot of advantages that appeal even online shoppers like the ability to touch and/or try the items, shipping is fast and items are available on hand, and retail therapy is more effective in a physical store.
The secret to retaining customers is making the most of the store’s strengths. But in order for the store to appeal to more/new customers, you need to update the store experience. This does not necessarily mean remodelingyour store or your shelves but making changes that can eliminate the usual things that customers hate about shopping in brick and mortar stores. Here are some ideas on what you can improve:
- Remove or minimize lines. Find ways to minimize the time your customer waits in line. You can use POS systems, especially mobile POSto make payments almost instantaneous.
- Improve the store’s ambianceby adapting lively colorschemes, using the right background musicfor your brand, proper use of lighting, and use scents to further set the ambianceyou desire for your store.