The percentage of retail spending going to online businesses has been increasing year on year for two decades and last year, because of the lockdown, saw its greatest growth since records began. If you run a bricks-and-mortar-only retail store, it’s unlikely you won’t have been affected by this. Today, many retail businesses are combining online and offline shopping to come up with unique approaches that have considerable benefit for their brand. Here, we explain the benefits of going online.
1. Bounce back from reduced sales
If physical store sales have declined because people are shopping online, then going online yourself enables you to sell to a much wider market. A local business is restricted to selling within a narrow geographical area, the fewer people from that area that visit your store, the fewer sales you can achieve. Online, you can sell your products to anyone anywhere and thus have the opportunity not just to recover from the sales you have lost but actually grow your business.
2. Increase store footfall
If the number of people visiting your store has decreased, this might not simply be because those shoppers are now buying online. A lot of people still prefer to buy in-store as they want to see a product up close or in the case of clothing, try it on. They also come to a store because they can get the right advice about which products to buy; something not always available online.
Instead, the reason they might not be coming is that they do not know you are there. While not everyone buys online, most people will start their search for a product or a type of retailer by looking on the internet. The stores that will get their business are those that are listed in the search engine results, especially those with websites where the shopper can find out more information.
By going online, your website will be included in those results and more local people will know you are there. As a result, some of the footfall you have lost can be reclaimed, especially if those visitors turn out to be loyal customers.
3. Click and collect
Shoppers increasingly want more convenient and quicker ways to get their products. While internet shopping allows them to buy without leaving the house, they are often frustrated at how long it takes for things to be delivered. This is where local retail stores with an online presence can have a real advantage if they offer click and collect services.
By offering click and collect, local customers can buy from your website and then, if they want the product quickly, can drive to the store to pick it up. In this way, you are selling online but can get the product to the customer even quicker than Amazon.
The additional advantage is that when the customer comes to collect the products, they have to visit the physical store and this can also lead to additional sales. Indeed, if you locate your click and collect desk wisely, you can make sure those customers have to see the other products which are on display.
4. Shop repurposing
Consumer shopping behaviours are changing and one of the main things they are looking for today is a great customer experience – something they are willing to pay more for and value more than lower prices.
Great customer experience includes things like online purchases, click and collect, local deliveries and free shipping. However, some businesses are going beyond this to offer in-store experiences too and this has led to a trend for store repurposing. Essentially, this means they have reduced the amount of retail space in their stores and put it to other purposes to attract more people through the door.
There are unlimited things you can do to offer in-store experiences, for example, many stores have introduced a café, record stores put on live music, beauty shops hold make-up lessons, bookshops have reading groups and author visits, and clothes stores run fashion shows. All these things bring more people into the store, give your brand a new dynamic and help grow sales. The importance of the internet here is that your website is the best way to promote these experiences and of course, it enables people who attend events to purchase the things seen in-store online.
5. More to a website than selling
Websites are not just for advertising and selling your products, retail stores can use them for a wide range of purposes. This can include making reservations for any events you hold, promoting sales and special offers, responding to and managing customer service, booking click and collect or delivery slots, collecting email addresses to send out marketing mails, displaying menus for your in-store café and more.
You can also use it to provide useful information for your customers, such as displaying clothing size guides or installing software tools that help customers find the right products, similar to the ones auto centres use to help people find the type of tyres their car needs.
All these things are important in providing a great customer experience and generate increased interest in both your online and physical stores.
Bricks-and-mortar-only stores face challenging times as more people shop online. Indeed, we have seen many famous brands disappear from the high street completely because they have not adapted to change within the retail market. Having a website not only enables you to start selling online; it also provides other opportunities to promote your business locally and adapt to modern shopping trends like click and collect and in-store experiences.
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