3 Ways Retail Store Owners Can Win, Despite E commerce

Brick-and-mortar retail stores are starting to make a shift into digital. This has got retailers wondering whether the future of retail lies online. It is true that the world is propelling towards digitisation. Yet, in the world of retail, there are still many reasons to believe that physical retail stores are not leaving the scene just yet.

In our work with retailers in Asia, we have found many who continue to succeed in offline retail, despite the competition from eCommerce.They used technology in simple but focused ways to drive footfall, interact and cross-sell customers. In fact, offline retailers gain significant advantages over eCommerce players the moment they start to incorporate tools and digital capabilities into their overall sales approach.

We combined some of these learnings in this article, focusing on new retail tactics that that you can start applying immediately.

1. Fully Leverage Natural Footfall

The number one factor that gives brick-and-mortar stores an edge over online stores is footfall. In the online world, getting website visits is not guaranteed.

When you have a storefront, you have immediate visibility among passersby. Visual promotions have proven to be highly effective in diverting passer-by and window shoppers into actual shoppers. Promotions and discounts are common and we believe you already know that.

However, are you already maximizing the “visual real estate” your store offers, by putting up large, eye catching banners that everyone can see from a distance?

Retailers with successful store promotions made sure that:

(i) their promotions are simple to understand e.g. 30% Off Storewide

(ii) banners are visible from a distance i.e. large fonts and

(iii) banners are focused on the promotion and not only ‘nice’ images about their brand.

However, reaching audiences and customers using banners, billboards and instore displays alone may not be sufficient. At times, the location of your store may not be ideal and footfall is limited. There are also many cases where retailers put up huge promotions but simply no one sees them.

In an age where people spend more time looking at their phones, some retailers have found ways to increase customer engagement beyond the boundaries of their physical shop –  by using online Ads to pump their promotions out to nearby / in-mall shoppers and actively drive store visits.

Online Ads on Facebook, Instagram and Google are not just for eCommerce players.

Ellysage, a womenswear retail store in Singapore found much success in driving traffic to their physical shops with online ads. A key element, is in making sure that the online Ads were shown only to shoppers near their store e.g. within 100m. Read about how they did it here.

2. Focus on Customer Relationship

Unlike the self-service and somewhat solo nature of online stores, offline retail naturally involves a higher element of customer engagement. Shopping is a social experience and retail owners should see their physical store as an opportunity to offer a differentiated customer experience and to build a long term relationship with shoppers.

As a customer, having a sales assistant to help you identify your needs, narrow down your preferences, and a satisfying human interaction can you give a better and more fulfilling experience.

Training is therefore critical and retail owners should heavily emphasize hiring sales assistants with the right attitude and offer them adequate training on customer interaction.

3. Go Omni-channel (not just multi-channel)

A local Singaporean retailer used online Ads to drive traffic and sales to their offline store in Bugis Junction.

A common move by today’s retailers is to have both a physical shop and an online store. However, some of the retailers we worked with have shared that their eCommerce teams function separately and independently from their offline retail teams. Being Omni-channel is different from being Multi-channel and emphasises integrating online and offline retail channels.

Driving offline customers online can be low-effort high-value. Imagine the customers who are walking into your stores daily. These are customers who are already engaged with your brands and products.

Collecting email addresses to send an electronics receipt (rather than a paper receipt), giving window shoppers an online promo code or QR digital voucher – are all ways of driving customers online to your eCommerce site using your offline channel.

Besides the opportunity to drive online sales, these are also easy means for creating a highly targeted audience set that will make any digital advertising efforts more effective. In the long run, this fosters customer loyalty and advocacy for physical retail stores.

eCommerce sites that offer the option of purchasing products online and picking them up in-store also offer huge potential for cross-selling. For instance, many mobile operators let customers buy phones online and pick up the product from their physical stores.

When customers visit the store to collect their purchase, sales assistants can actively cross-sell with complementary purchases such a relevant phone cases or ear phones, in order to further drive sales conversions.

Read more about how retailers are using digital offline promo vouchers to truly converge offline and online shopping.

Summary Takeaways:

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