What Brick and Mortar Locations Can Learn from Ecommerce Strategies
You’ve heard the stats, you’ve seen the beckoning bright light, you probably know someone who’s taken part and you, yourself, most likely have. What am I referring to? Buying from Ecommerce web sites. Ecommerce is a trillion dollar industry (1.2 trillion dollars were spent on it in the US in 2013 to be exact) and an estimated 40% of worldwide internet users have bought goods online. Ecommerce falls into different categories, like B2B (business-to-business), B2C (business-to-consumer), and C2C (consumer-to-consumer).
More than 1 billion people buy online yearly, and the number is only growing. Meanwhile, traditional brick and mortar stores are not faring as well. They are experiencing downward sales trends and last year, retailers in the US received about half the holiday foot traffic they experienced three years ago, according to ShopperTrak. While the novelty of perusing items in store still has value, many people who lead busy lives find the convenience and pricing Ecommerce offers to be more desirable. Therefore, traditional brick and mortar storefronts should definitely take a cue from Ecommerce strategies if they want to maintain an edge. Here are a few Ecommerce strategies they can adopt:
Don’t Skimp on Set Up Costs
Thrifty store spending isn’t lucrative when you consider that your store is an investment. Cheap fixtures are not only an eye sore but will break easier and may cost more in the long run. One of the reasons customers buy in-store is for the shopping experience and a cheap, dingy atmosphere will not appeal. Ecommerce retailers often spend a bulk of their change setting up and maintaining the site, using high quality photos and a reputable shopping cart to provide a pleasing customer experience which multiplies sales. Create a pleasant atmosphere in your store and keep it clean and well-maintained.
Frequently, when buying item “A” from online retailers, suggestions will pop up for items “B” and “C.” Ecommerce sites will often link items together offering you item “B” half off if you buy item “A.” Play off of the same idea for your Ecommerce strategies and offer customers similar sales incentives which will often entice them into buying an item they might not have otherwise purchased.
The technological nature of the Internet provides metrics for which to analyze everything on Ecommerce sites, from traffic, to sales. Metrics allow site owners to evaluate the entire online shopping experience, showing everything from conversions, to how much time a consumer spent on the site and what he/she put in their shopping cart. Physical stores can take a cue from this Ecommerce strategy by measuring things like conversions, items per transaction, etc. The measurements will provide a picture from which to improve upon.
The fastest growing aspect of the Ecommerce business model is buying on mobile devices like phones and tablets. Ecommerce retailers are even building specific mobile-friendly web sites. Therefore, embrace the revolution! Let employees use personal mobile gadgets to find inventory or access training videos. Send marketing messages or sales to registered customers shopping in the store. Showrooming is becoming a shopping fact of life, so offer to match online pricing and give easy access to your own web site within the store.
Use Traffic to Your Advantage
One of the most important metrics in Ecommerce strategies is traffic, which shows the amount of people going to your site. The more people going to your site, the higher chance you have that their views will be converted to sales. So how do you use this concept for a physical store? Once they are on your site, why not offer incentives to get them in to the store? Offer special in-store only sales or coupons that can only be used in the store. Brick and mortars should leverage their customer lists to get them into the store.
Experiment to Create the Best Experience
Ecommerce web sites use different themes, colors, content, etc. to create the experience the target market will most respond to. Code is manipulated to change the look of the sites and different web page placement is tested. The same thing can be done in physical stores. Test different floor sets, paint the walls different colors, and allow store managers some license for experimentation. It might take a few tries before you’ve found the recipe for success.
In order to remain relevant, you must stay fresh by always moving forward. Ecommerce has provided another facet to the retail industry and is performing exceptionally well. Brick and mortar stores, while still competing heavily, are slipping in the rankings and need additional ways to stay relevant. By grabbing tricks from the new kid on the block, and using Ecommerce strategies to remain competitive, they can reap the same rewards.