Did you know that 61% of consumers prefer buying from eCommerce stores that also have a physical presence?
Despite the exponential growth of eCommerce, on-ground retail stores and brick and mortar businesses are still flourishing. In fact, technology is only helping them grow faster.
Brands are increasingly offering integrated multichannel shopping experiences that help shoppers seamlessly transition from online to offline purchasing (and vice versa) without compromising on product quality and supply.
To stay competitive, it is imperative that you view technology as an enabler rather than a competing force that threatens the survival of your retail business.
In this article, I’ll share several ways how brick and mortar businesses are leveraging digital retail marketing, eCommerce, and technology, in general, to capture new markets and grow their sales.
1. Driving in-store sales by offering a memorable online experience
The mainstreaming of smartphones, public WiFi, and 5G data networks means consumers are connected around the clock no matter where they are.
This is having a huge impact on the buying behavior of modern-day consumers. A 2018 study by Google found that 78% of holiday shoppers searched online for a store before personally visiting it.
Image Source: Think With Google
The same study also found that while physically visiting a retail store, 52% of shoppers also visited its website to explore product features, find new deals, and look for discounts.
Like it or not, consumers now expect retail stores to have fully updated websites for better shopping experiences. Because clearly, your website plays a huge role in driving sales even when customers are inside your outlet.
A weak or non-existent online presence will have a direct impact on your sales numbers.
For example, consider this.
Even if you have a fast site, but it doesn’t have the information customers typically look for, they’re likely to either walk out of your store without purchasing anything or not spend as much as they would’ve otherwise.
This is why global retail brands like Nike, Home Depot, Target, etc. have fast, secure, and updated eCommerce sites that are fully integrated with their on-ground stores so that consumers enjoy memorable shopping experiences.
2. Engaging prospects with video content
If you haven’t already realized, video content has taken over the internet.
From social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, to product reviews on eCommerce websites, videos have the best engagement rate among different content types and have an immediate impact on conversions.
According to a study conducted in January 2019, explainer videos increase conversions by 15%. This makes sense and is backed by another study according to which 72% of consumers prefer video over text when learning about a product or service.
Image Source: SmartInsights
So how exactly should you integrate video in your retail marketing strategy?
Start by adding product demonstration videos on your eCommerce site. They immediately give the buyers a feel for your product and allow them to understand its utility.
ASOS uses a short video on all product pages which makes it much easier to examine their products.
If you’re selling a multi-purpose product that needs to be described in detail, consider using animated explainer videos on your site. A study found that 97% of consumers understand a product better after watching a well-made explainer video.
Using video testimonials is another great way to engage customers and persuade them to take action.
Video, in short, is a powerful tool modern retailers can use to provide a much better account of their products to their target audience.
3. Enhancing customer experience with better in-house communication
Offering online shopping has a lot of advantages for brick and mortar businesses. It not only allows them to market their products to a much wider audience but also helps them serve customers around the clock.
But running online and offline channels simultaneously also presents some challenges at an operational level.
For example, when your eCommerce website has discounts listed for certain products, you need to make sure they’re available in your retail outlets as well.
You don’t want customers exploring your website while inside your store to find a difference in product pricing or incorrect stock information.
These seemingly small errors leave a lasting impact on customer experience and can cost you thousands of dollars in sales. Studies show that companies lose almost $100 billion dollars every year by failing to provide simple customer experiences
Image Source: iperceptions
This is why brands put so much emphasis on streamlining internal communication so that their on-ground sales teams and online marketing units are on the same page.
And it pays dividends as well.
TOMS, a retail shoe brand, reduced communication gaps within its operations team by more than 80% which increased customer satisfaction and made a direct impact on their bottom line.
Better supply chain management is just one of the benefits of clear internal communication.
It also has a direct impact on the motivation level of your on-ground retail staff which again translates into better customer experience and results in higher sales.
4. Using email marketing and retargeting to drive sales
Staying in touch with your customers and building a relationship with them is crucial for any retail and eCommerce business.
When customers remember you and keep receiving new offers, they’re much more likely to buy from you as compared to someone who hasn’t had any interaction with your brand.
According to one study, the probability of acquiring new customers is 5-7% as compared to selling to existing customers which is 60-70%.
Image Source: CoSchedule
Among all marketing channels, email marketing is the best method to stay connected with your customers, offer them lots of value, and build customer loyalty.
There are dozens of studies and stats to prove it.
For example, a study found that email marketing has an ROI of $32 for every $1 spent in marketing.
A research conducted by Adobe found that 50% of customers prefer email as a mode of communication for receiving discounts and special offers from trusted brands.
It, therefore, doesn’t come as a surprise that email traffic has the highest conversion rate among all the different retail marketing channels.
Image Source: SmartInsights
But how exactly can retail stores build an email subscriber base?
Here are a few ideas.
- Place an email sign up form on your website and offer something valuable like a coupon or discount in return for signing up to your list.
- Collect customer email addresses at the point of sale and make them a part of your database with their consent.
- Offer exclusive deals and discounts for walk-in customers who sign up to your list.
- Place email sign up forms at your retail outlet counters and other prominent places.
As your list grows, make sure you stay connected with your customers, don’t spam them with unnecessary emails, and offer them exclusive and timely deals that increase their loyalty towards your brand.
5. Building a coordinated content marketing strategy
Content marketing is a long-term and cost-effective way to grow your audience, generate leads, and drive sales.
But it’s an equally powerful strategy for retail stores and traditional brick and mortar businesses.
Consider this simple research finding.
78% of customers consume more than 3 pieces of content before reaching out to a sales rep to learn more about your product.
Image Source: Demand Gen Report – 2018 Content Consumption Survey
But what if you’re not publishing any content or don’t have a coordinated content marketing strategy?
Clearly, you’ll miss out on a lot of potential sales.
Thankfully, content marketing isn’t as complicated as some people say.
At its core, an effective content marketing strategy simply answers the questions of your prospects in more detail than your competitors.
This can be done in the form of blog articles, whitepapers, YouTube videos, social media posts, and even encouraging customers to leave positive online reviews.
A coordinated content strategy covers all the content types and platforms that are relevant to your target audience.
RiverPools, a fiberglass swimming pool manufacturer with traditional retail operations, is a great example of how content marketing can contribute to business success.
The company was about to shut down in 2008 because of the recession and a shortage of customers. This is when they decided to invest in content marketing.
10 years later, the company’s blog has more than 700 detailed articles that answer the different queries of their customers. They have attracted more than 22 million page views on the back of their content and also published more than 140 videos on their blog and YouTube channel.
Their content strategy alone has driven their company out of bankruptcy and turned into a huge success story of brick and mortar retail marketing.
So how exactly do you create a content marketing strategy?
It’s a detailed topic that Jeff has addressed several times before.
But I’ll leave you with a few quick pointers.
- Identify the core objective you want to achieve with content marketing. Is it branding, awareness, growing your subscriber base, or sales?
- Identify your target audience, list down their biggest problems, their needs and wants, the possible objections they might have while purchasing your product, the questions they have in mind.
- Turn every question into a blog post idea and write detailed articles that tell your customers everything they want to know.
- Optimize your content for search engines.
- Build your social media presence to promote your content and engage with your prospects.
- Build an email list.
Are you ready to grow your business with retail marketing?
Technology has become an integral part of our lives and there’s no way you can ignore it if you want to run a successful retail business.
With the kind of tools, techniques, and strategies available today, traditional brick and mortar businesses can grow exponentially by engaging their customers with smart use of technology and building long-term relationships.
The business environment is changing fast, and the only way to stay competitive is to keep innovating and using the latest technological advancements to your benefit.
If you have any questions about this article, I’d love to respond in the comments section.