In this article from Solocal Group‘s UK Country Manager Bruno Berthezene shares his five key tips for multichannel brands looking to drive sales in bricks and mortar stores.
The rise of digital technologies has undoubtedly prompted a change in people’s buying habits, with , with how consumers choose to buy and research products evolving alongside technology.
The development of mobile and online platforms has resulted in consumers webrooming, a trend that’s gaining rapid momentum, with approximately 70% of consumers aged 18 to 67 actively adopting the practice. However, following the recent news that consumers are increasingly choosing to shop online rather than in bricks and mortar stores, it’s clear that multichannel retailers need to do more to respond to the challenge posed by online outlets, and adopt strategies to convert online searches into in-store footfall.
1. Personalised, contextualised digital display
Use personalised and contextualised digital display adverts to engage with your customers and ensure your content stands out from the crowd. Thanks to the advent in digital technologies, more brands than ever are competing for potential customers’ attention on desktops, smartphones and tablets. This means that consumers are finding themselves inundated with streams of online adverts and incentives, making it vital that brands ensure their message is one that stands out from the crowd. Through using social, behavioural, geographic and demographic data to display personalised content to a user, multichannel brands are able to increase the likelihood of engaging with consumers and capturing their initial interest.
2. Improve website online visibility
Ensure that your brand appears when searching for particular products, services or phrases; with over 94% of clicks being made through SEO, an optimised website is an essential tool for today’s retailers. Whilst e-commerce is undoubtedly popular, consumers also like the instant gratification of being able to purchase in store, as well as dealing with sales representatives face to face. By having visibility of your products and services, you are able to convince those browsing the web that buying in store is a viable option.
3. Get personal
When looking to drive traffic in store, it’s important that SEO strategies place emphasis on connecting potential customers with local outlets, as a large part of searches have a local intent. To achieve this, microsites should be created for each store or outlet’s location, which will help to improve online visibility and increase in-store traffic. Photographs or indoor views of each location can then be displayed on these microsites, helping to build a connection between customers and their nearest outlet.
Microsites can also be used to display whether a particular product is available nearby. This approach has been proven to dramatically improve the customer experience, drive footfall to stores and improve customer retention and loyalty. With a recent Internet Retailing study revealing that 74% of customers would like to see whether an item they’re searching for is available nearby, it’s clear just how valuable this service is.
4. Offer an incentive to engage
This can come in the form of discount vouchers which can be redeemed in outlets, loyalty schemes or personal shopping services. Personal shopping services are a great way of encouraging customers to visit a bricks and mortar store, and the advantages for both brands and customers are clear. After deploying a personal shopping service, brands can expect increased footfall to their stores, increased order value, improved customer loyalty and retention and greater connections with customers, whilst customers will have a dramatically enhanced experience. However, if offering a personal shopping or appointment booking service, it’s important that that customers are able to book an appointment when suits them, and aren’t restricted to opening business opening hours. With 40% of appointments being booked outside of opening hours, allowing the customer to book appointments online and in-real time ensures the process is incredibly easy for them and can be done from the comfort of their sofa, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
5. Click & collect
Click & collect or click & reserve are undoubtedly popular with customers, with 75 percent of online shoppers in the UK predicted to use the service by 2017. Not only is the service a valuable tool for driving customers in store, it is also likely that customers will spend additional money on spontaneous purchases; something that 25% of shoppers did during the Christmas period.
Whilst these are great tactics that multichannel retailers can use to drive footfall to stores, for maximum impact it’s essential that they’re integrated seamlessly into the customer path to ensure a smooth journey from web to store. At each stage of the web to store customer journey, there is a risk that the brand could lose the customer if they don’t sufficiently engage with them and meet their requirements. When a shopper encounters a flaw, retailers become open to the risk that the customer might be tempted to switch to a competitor who is better able to engage with them, or may even abandon their intent to purchase all together. This means that having even one weakness along the customer path could dissuade potential customers from continuing on their purchase journey, harming other marketing strategies which have been implemented along the way, and hindering ROI overall. To create a seamless customer experience, it’s therefore vital that these solutions are user friendly. With 69% of UK adults becoming “frustrated” when sites are not optimised for mobile, ensuring your sites are optimised for all platforms is an essential part of creating a smooth customer journey.
Although consumers can certainly be tempted by e-commerce options, by taking steps to ensure a great customer experience, multichannel retailers are able to position themselves as an excellent choice for shoppers. Having a physical presence has many advantages that pure play e-tailers are unable to offer, however for multichannel brands to capitalise on this, they need to carefully develop their online offerings to encourage customers to step away from their devices and into stores.