A few days ago was Part I, introducing small business owners to moving your retail business online. We went through a simple 6-step process of selling your products at your eCommerce store in addition to your brick and mortar location.
Remember, even if you’re lucky enough to still be open during this difficult time, starting or improving your web store will bring you more traffic, sales, and brand awareness. So today, let’s look more specifically at several of the key advantages of selling online. Each of these advantages might not apply to your business, but if even a few do, it will bring lasting success.
- Track Customer Behavior and Preferences
- How to Sell Online in Retail With Your Loyalty Program
- Keep Up With Your Competitors
- Add Flexibility to the Customer Experience
- Reach a Larger Audience
- Offer a Larger Product Selections
- Improve Your Relationship with the Local Community
1. Track Customer Behavior and Preferences
While still following all consumer privacy protection laws, retailers should find ways to monitor shopper behavior and preferences. And it’s a whole lot easier to do so with online shoppers than it is with physical retail.
Online stores allow retailers to see exactly what products each shopper has looked at, how they navigated your site, when they abandoned carts, what items they decided to save for later, how many hours or days the buying process takes, and much more.
Learning about customer behavior and preferences will better help you cater to their desires and make necessary adjustments to your shopping experience. Of course, this will bring in more sales and increase loyalty to your brand.
2. How to Sell Online in Retail With Your Loyalty Program
Additionally, your shopper loyalty program can be improved more easily with an eCommerce store.
Getting an in-person loyalty program to gain traction. Shoppers often don’t want to divulge personal information or take the time to sign up. Plus, you need to rely on your cashiers to remind customers about your loyalty program.
With an online store, it’s easy to set up. Start by offering a free item or discount if a new shopper signs up with your loyalty program. It’s important to remember that it’s necessary to make alluring. A great loyalty program will be beneficial to both you and your shoppers. Digital codes with fast email or SMS confirmation are simple to implement.
From there, you’ll be able to better cater your product line to each customer, informing them of similar products, new items you’re offering, or any promotions. Just keep in mind that it’s risky to require sign up at the eCommerce checkout. This typically increases abandoned cart rates. Instead, provide shoppers with the option to sign in when completing a purchase, but don’t make it a requirement.
3. Keep Up With Your Competitors
In retail it’s important to never be the last business to follow a trend. Typically, it’s already too late. With more and more small businesses moving online every day, it’s critical that you hop on the bandwagon now.
eCommerce sales are growing at incredible rates each year. In the United States, in fact, online sales grew 14.9% in 2019. This is likely to be much greater in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and more business being conducted remotely.
Using multiple retailing channels to sell your products is a key part of improving the shopping experience for you customers. And there is no better time than now to get started.
4. Add Flexibility to the Customer Experience
Most consumers are trying to find ways to stay at home and minimize their time running to the store. While stores are likely to reopen in the coming few months, it’s likely that eCommerce will continue to see an added boost in volume as shoppers are still likely to find alternative ways of conducting day-to-day life.
But not only is adding an online option critical. It’s also important that you make it straightforward and convenient.
- Add a simple internal search feature. If you don’t have a massive product line these are relatively simple to implement. It doesn’t have to be Google; it just needs to break down your products by categories and a few common search terms.
- Make a FAQ page to take some of the stress off your support team. Plus, if shoppers can have questions answered immediately rather than have to wait 24 hours, your conversion rates will increase.
- Allow shoppers to subscribe to your blog, video channel, newsletter, promotion campaign, or loyalty program. Add a pop-up window at the checkout or when the user navigates to the toolbar. You can customize the prompt however you’d like. Try out a few different prompts to see what converts best.
- Minimize hurdles at the retail checkout counter. Keep it simple and don’t create extra time for shoppers to second guess their purchase. Allow options to register, but it’s critical that your customer can check out as a guest, too. Continue to improve the retail checkout experience for your customers.
- Add product suggestions at the checkout or after a purchase is completed. This helps remind shoppers of similar items they’re likely to want, and it keeps your brand in your mind going forward.
5. Reach a Larger Audience
We’ve arleady mentioned the importance of reaching a more diverse audience. A physical retail store, of course, can only serve those consumers who are able to be there in person. An online store, however, can reach anyone who is within your shipping capabilities.
But focusing on catering to specific demographics will broaden your audience even further. It’s easier than ever to reach a specific target audience through your digital marketing. Choose demographics based on the following:
- Past purchases
This helps you create a personalized experience for each of your shoppers. Directly targeting specific demographics will help expand the reach of your online store and draw in a diverse array of new people.
6. Offer a Larger Product Selection
Moving your retail brick and mortar store online will also allow you to offer a wider range of products. Keeping inventory on your store’s premises can be tricky to manage. Overstocking a certain item can leave you with reduced space for others. In turn, this leaves you with a costly lack of stock for other items.
eCommerce stores allow you to easily display all products that you carry, even those that are out of stock or yet to be released. Retailers can keep their shoppers updated on timelines for certain products so they can pre-order or sign up for notifications of their release. This helps create anticipation and increases the sense of urgency that is so beneficial for driving sales.
Your online store also gives you more flexibility with your warehouse storage. You no longer have to deal with the physical constraints of your actual store; instead, you can choose warehouse space that suits your needs. Leverage the added convenience to try out new products that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to offer.
7. Improve Your Relationship with Your Local Community
Through the COVID-19 pandemic, offering online services for your regular brick and mortar shoppers is a great way to foster your relationship with your community. Many of your local shoppers are likely trying to stay home. If you can find ways to make this easier for them, they’re likely to continue shopping with you through the pandemic and in the future. There are so many benefits of becoming a brick and click retailer.
Combine your offline and online shopping experiences:
- Give faster delivery to local shoppers
- If you don’t already, start offering buy online pick up in-store options using retail lockers
- Offer eCommerce discounts for customers in your community
- Cross promote items between your brick and mortar and online stores