Local Business

How to Bring Online Shoppers into Physical Stores

Brick-and-click retailers, those with physical stores and an online shop, can use the rich data ecommerce provides to encourage online shoppers to visit the retailers’ physical stores or pop-up shops.

Many traditional retail businesses with one or more physical shops, stores, or boutiques are also online merchants. Sometimes these businesses think of online operations as a separate sales channel. But there are many ways to integrate physical stories with sales made online. There are also opportunities.

Cross-channel Retail Opportunities

If you asked the owner or manager of a traditional retail business how opening a second physical store could impact business, you might hear answers ranging from increasing sales to gaining more buying power or even more efficient marketing, since a single ad could promote both locations.

In fact, it would be likely that all of the answers to the hypothetical question would involve some form of cooperation between the locations. They could share inventory, marketing, and even customer service responsibilities in some cases.

There is a similar synergy between a retailer’s online and offline stores. Here are a few examples.

  • Click-and-collect. When shoppers order online and pick up in-store, merchants often save on shipping and packaging costs, and those merchants have a chance to get add-on sales at the store.
  • Customer loyalty. Online shoppers that are familiar with a retailer’s physical stores and that value community support and good local customer service may be more loyal. You can treat them better with an integrated loyalty program.
  • Good margins. Digital marketing and reward programs may help you sell more without offering deep discounts.
  • Effective operations. Cashiers, clerks, and stockers at small retail stores may experience downtime when no customers are in the physical store,. But if there are online orders to process, pack, and ship, those employees can be more effective.
  • Marketing effectiveness. As described above, single marketing campaigns can promote both an online store and a physical one.

Use Click-and-collect to Bring Online Shoppers In-store

The first and, perhaps, most obvious way to bring online shoppers to a brick-and-mortar shop is to offer an incentive for picking up orders.

Click-and-collect retail allows a shopper to place an order online whenever it is convenient and pick up the order at a local store. Customers like the option because they can often get their items the same day they order them, and they can have the order waiting for them, so that visiting the physical store takes less time.

Here is an example.

Imagine a busy family. Mom and dad are both professionals. Their children are involved in sports, music, and school. Every day is a logistics challenge that would make the traffic manager at a UPS hub cry. Children are transported to and from school, lessons, and different practices. Parents must commute to work, drive to lunch meetings, get in a quick workout, and cook dinner.

It is a significant relief for this imagined family if mom can order something online, stop for five minutes on the way home, and have all of her items ready and waiting for her.

There is often a benefit to merchants, too. Click-and-collect sales can be much less expensive to process. Online retailers are compelled to offer free shipping, which typically reduces margins and profits. Moreover, online orders must be packed in boxes, which cost more than the bags that items are loaded in at a physical store.

Thus, if a merchant can encourage click-and-collect, both the merchant and customer might benefit. Consider promoting click-and-collect throughout the online store and in its checkout process. Let shoppers know that the items can be picked up the same day or next day, and even consider offering a small discount for click-and-collect.

Market to Nearby Online Customers

When you make a purchase at FinishLine.com, the athletic apparel retailer knows a few things about you — such as where you live — thanks to the billing and shipping addresses that you provided at checkout.

Finish Line uses its email marketing to encourage in-store visits.

Finish Line uses its email marketing to encourage in-store visits.

If you also subscribed, at checkout, to the Finish Line’s email newsletter, the welcome message you receive includes an invitation to visit the company’s nearby stores. Finish Line is using ecommerce data to market its physical store.

To do something similar, consider this approach.

  • Market locally. Ecommerce marketing should include — if not focus — on customers located near physical stores.
  • Monitor customer addresses. When an online customer’s home address is near your physical store, automatically segment it in your email list.
  • Include store information in email message. Include store information, like location, hours of operation, and direct contact information in every email-marketing message you send to the nearby customer.

This approach can work for direct-mail marketing, too. Imagine that you are having a special sale at your brick-and-mortar store. There will be manufacturers’ representatives onsite, making deals. You’re giving away prizes. Send direct mail postcards to your nearby ecommerce customers. After all, you have their addresses.

Armando Roggio
Armando Roggio
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