There’s been a great deal of coverage about the decline of brick-and-mortar retail stores in recent years, with well-known brands struggling to survive the downturn in physical store sales including The Gap, American Apparel and RadioShack – to name but a few. While much of this is attributed to the sizeable growth of online retailers such as Amazon and other e-commerce enterprises that offer lower prices, greater product variety and convenience all at the touch of a button, it seems not all traditional retail outlets are willing to throw in the towel just yet.
In fact, some brick-and-mortar stores are learning from
e-commerce models and tactics to curate a streamlined and personalized shopping
experience that shoppers won’t find elsewhere. In today’s post, I’ll be
exploring some of the lessons physical retail outlets can learn from their
e-commerce counterparts, arming them with the necessary attributes to adapt and
evolve in an ever-changing landscape.
There’s no denying that shopping online allows consumers greater freedom to shop when and where they want without the typical constraints of standard retail opening hours and the whole buying process is almost seamless in most cases. Add the fact that there is huge scope for shoppers to browse multiple products and brands effortlessly, seeking out the best possible prices with just a few clicks, it’s easy to see why the popularity of online shopping is growing.
However, as a physical retail store, there’s no reason why
you can’t adopt similar principles to your shopper experience to make a trip
into the store quick, seamless and satisfying for the customer.
With time-poor consumers now on the rise, the key is to provide them with easy access to the products they like, followed up with a smooth transition from shop floor to the checkout that makes shopping in-store convenient and pleasurable.
To do this effectively, take the time to research current
buying trends or any seasonal spikes and curate your store layout to reflect
this – positioning popular products or seasonal must-haves in highly visible
locations so they’re easy to find. This may mean scaling down the volume of
stock on the shop floor to create a more showroom feel, but a less cluttered,
clean approach that mirrors some of the best e-commerce websites will
contribute to a smoother buying process – particularly when bolstered with a
hassle free check out.
One distinct advantage brick-and-mortar stores have over
online retailers is the chance to physically connect with customers when they
visit a store – and this opportunity shouldn’t be missed.
While many online retailers overcome this well with convenient FAQs and live chat services to answer customer qualms, this doesn’t compare to face-to-face interactions. Your sales staff are key assets here, so take time to train employees thoroughly on how to engage with shoppers effectively without seeming pushy. Essentially your staff should optimize and personalize the shopping experience by acting as a physical live chat service – attentive, knowledgeable and readily available at the shopper’s request.
Within this remit, it also pays to re-evaluate and
streamline the checkout process. When compared to online checkouts, the store
buying experience can seem slow and clunky, so think of innovative ways to
remove some, if not all, of the obstacles that may hinder shoppers. This could
include self-checkout terminals, arming staff with mobile point of sale
terminals to process sales on the shop floor or marrying online and in-store
sales with buy online and collect in-store services.
From product suggestions to subscription services, online
retailers are proficient at upselling to increase purchase volumes and these
are all tactics that can be implemented in physical retail outlets too.
This method does rely on direct selling from shop
assistants with additional product suggestions or buy-in to loyalty schemes and
other subscriptions. However, there are more subtle ways to influence an upsell
through store layout.
Simple strategies like grouping complementary items together like a pair of men’s jeans with t-shirts and accessories to sell a complete ensemble or being savvy with impulse buy items at the checkout and throughout the store – be selective about the products with a less-is-more approach.
Many successful online enterprises harness the power of
customer data to connect with their clientele and upsell. While it’s easier for
them to obtain this data through the setup of online checkouts, this doesn’t
mean brick-and-mortar stores can’t employ similar tactics.
Although some customers may have reservations about
handing over their details at the cashier desk, you can make use of digital
marketing strategies such as newsletters and social media promotions to
encourage shopper engagement. This will then allow you to tap into their buying
history and tailor promotional material to suit them – be it notifications of
new products lines, discount sales and more.
Despite many household brands feeling the strain of the
evolving retail landscape, it’s clear there is still very much a place for
brick-and-mortar retailers. However, in order to succeed, traditional stores
will need to adapt to the current climate and customer needs – and taking note
from slick online retailers could be a great place to start.
About the writer: Luke Conod is Managing Director of Buy Jeans and its parent company Denim Nation, providing competitively priced men’s jeans and other high-quality clothing from leading international labels.