Discover how to enhance your business by uniting e-commerce with your physical shop.
With the pronounced growth in online business, the concept of “Omnichannel” is becoming increasingly relevant and important in marketing strategy. Consumers are more informed more demanding and more tech savvy. But despite all the opportunities technology has brought us, e-commerce being one, the BigCommerce Study 2017 has found that consumers still value the experience of physical shopping, identifying several points that create barriers to choosing goods online. The most common of these are shipping costs, the fact products can’t be tried beforehand, difficult return processes and delivery times, amongst others.
But how can brands overcome these barriers and unite customers using their physical stores with the more digital side afforded by e-commerce while maintaining a uniform marketing strategy?
Here are 9 tips to provide your customers with a uniform shopping experience:
1. Buy online and collect at the shop: with shipping costs one of the most commonly mentioned sticking points in e-commerce, one solution is for businesses to allow customers to shop online and then collect the goods at a physical store.
2. Stock information: many consumers do not like paying in advance and, even with the possibility of reserving and paying at the time a product is collected at the store, some indecisive customers do not like to feel committed in this way. Solution: provide an always up-to-date database of stock allowing customers to search for a certain product at a certain shop and have the chance, depending on the availability of the existing product and stock, to make a decision with more time. A good example of this method is IKEA.
3. Buy at a shop but leave empty-handed: this is a new approach that has emerged to try and fight the customer trend that technology has created – trying out a product at a physical shop but then only buying it online from a competitor. To combat this, some shops have begun to offer delivery services “after purchase at the shop” without additional costs for the customer. It is a different approach but one that provides comfort to customers to fight the impulse to buy online from a rival business at lower prices.
4. Send information on promotional prices available only at the shop by text message: according to the Statista 2018 study, people spend over 4 hours a day on their mobile phones. Using a text-message-based marketing strategy would seem to be a logical idea then, as increasingly relevant data in your contact information.
5. Optimise the SEO for “near me” searches: consumers want fast results and close-at-hand solutions, searching for shops that are geographically close and using search engines on their phones and geolocalisation technology.
6. Possibility to exchange and return at the shop: one of the most limiting factors felt by customers shopping online as opposed to shopping at a physical store is the difference in shopping experience, namely the inability to see, touch, feel and try the products. This type of limitation does not really have a solution, but it can be minimised by letting customers exchange or return products at the shop, thus expanding their shopping experience.
7. Organise events and workshops at your shop: having a physical shop is an asset that should be used productively. Attracting customers to your shop is a way of letting them interact with your products and to seduce them with communication and marketing strategies. Private events exclusively for online customers, limited-size workshops and other activities appeal to customers and take advantage of the physical space that a shop provides.
8. Optimise advertising: an asset that technology provides is the advantage of having information available everywhere and at any time of the day. But this can also be a limitation if your shop does not have a good online presence with an optimised website and advertising.
9. Create unique experiences at the shop: make the experience of shopping at the store as pleasant and appealing as possible, making customers want to visit even if they can buy online just as easily.
Both online and offline shopping have their limits and restrictions. However, if we try to analyse the strong and weak points of each, we can always find solutions to help businesses to get around them and to provide their customers with a uniform experience, attracting online customers to the physical stores and the shop’s customers to e-commerce.
The most important thing is to give your customers a unique experience that makes them want to return to the shop and become increasingly loyal to your business.