How Brick-And-Mortar Stores Can Compete With E-Commerce Businesses
With every passing year, there is a tremendous increase in online sales, with a majority of brands and retailers taking their business online. While this is true, there is a parallel conversation happening about how the brick and mortar stores are shutting down.
Many big retailers have come in the news about closing their physical locations. Well known brand, Payless ShoeSource closed down about 400 physical stores across the USA and Puerto Rico. Over a year ago, Ralph Lauren announced that they were closing down their leading store in Manhattan as a part of its plan to move towards a new and innovative customer experience.
This movement towards building new and innovative customer experiences have trended towards online shopping which can be done from the comfort of one’s home or via a smartphone. Many retail giants today heavily invest in e-commerce in order to meet the demands of the growing customer needs. With the competition getting tougher year after year, how can the traditional retailers attract customers to their physical stores?
Creating a simple, fast and friction-free commerce
One thing that online shoppers detest is having to wait for their purchases to arrive (some even have to pay overnight shipping) so, as a brick-and-mortar merchant, the ability to provide instant gratification can stand out. It is a good strategy to work around customers in a neighborhood that the merchant is well known. This can be done with proper local advertising and an online presence that provides accurate directions to the store.
Traditional retailers often have a more difficult time creating a friction-free environment. While considering the hurdles, they must determine why a customer would decide NOT to make a purchase. They must explore questions such as - is an item not in stock? Are the staff unable to answer questions?
It is imperative to understand the possible pain points and take initiative to alleviate them. If there an item that is out of stock, consider providing a complimentary shipping to the customer’s home, or make proper arrangements so that the staff is able to answer customer questions.
Strengthen customer relationships using social media
Customers today are no longer enticed by discounts and special offers. They are also looking for rewarding shopping experiences. Retailers can engage with their customers by creating a vibrant and interactive social media presence. If the retailer provides kitchen goods, they can share recipes online that the customers can try at home, or provide cooking tips and in-store demos. Leveraging social the right way can help build a tight-knit community for the retailer’s customers.
Creating smarter in-store experiences
There are a number of ways that can change the in-store experience for the customer. Making things easy with clear signs, organized shelving, clear pricing can make a great difference. If the retailer provides gourmet or specialty products, additional descriptive tags can pique customer interest. Furthermore, marrying the in-store presence with the online presence can create an interactive experience for customers as well.
Another critical component while creating a smarter in-store experience is the checkout. This is last, most important component of the customer’s purchasing journey and the need for it to be smooth and friction free is important. One of the things to keep in mind, for instance, could be ensuring that the technology that the store uses for payment is up to date and secure, which accepts all major credit cards.
A new thing that is taking the brick and mortar stores to another level is the incorporation of mobile point-of-sale solutions so that the customers do not waste time while standing in long queues at checkout.
Brick and mortar stores, contrary to the negative conversations, are far from being irrelevant. By providing unique, shopping experiences that is seamless as shopping online, with the added advantage of providing a personal touch, traditional retailers can maintain their share of the business and combat the growing e-commerce trend by riding on its growth.