Bricks and mortar stores versus online sales channels. It's no longer a viable debate. Multichannel sales are the future of retail as contemporary shoppers engage with brands across multiple touchpoints, using a strategic mix including in-store, online, email marketing and social media platforms.
Let’s unpack that idea!
As a retailer, there are only 2 ways to increase your revenue. You either increase your customer numbers or you increase the average spend of your customers when they are in your store. That sounds logical enough but how do you pull that off exactly?
No longer are you restricted to foot traffic in a retail precinct. Grow your reach via Social Media channels. Facebook and Instagram are a low-cost way of reaching new audiences by broadening your geographic reach and finding new customers outside of your retail precinct. As marketers, the degree of audience targeting available to us is unprecedented. Create an entirely new fan base for your brand.
The 'no service' approach doesn't work
Building Customer Count
Building customer count online is easy. But driving traffic to your store is considerably more challenging. You need to make your store a destination, and not rely solely on the ebb and flow of passing traffic. Be strategic about which days you want to attract more customers and then think about what might compel them to come in on that day. Is it a limited-time Super Tuesday offer? Or do you have a special guest appearance for a few hours? Perhaps a workshop. Wine and cheese, or morning tea while you present a new range to ‘members only’.
Shopping becomes experiential, not purely transactional
Create an immersive experience for your customers that an online channel can’t provide. According to a recent study in US eCommerce trends (Q1-2017) eCommerce sales were only at 8.5% of total Retail Sales. But to ignore that 8.5% growth opportunity would be commercially incompetent. Your store is still your best brand asset. Your customers get to touch your product, try it on for size, and speak with a sales person. Online shopping carts are impersonal and often poorly designed. According to Instagram, 84% of smartphone users research or compare products via a web browser or mobile app with only 21% of purchases made within a day. The study also suggests that 2/3 shoppers check prices online before making a purchase in-store.
91.5% of shoppers still buy in-store
49% of shoppers want to take their items home in nicely branded packaging immediately. People still enjoy shopping as a social outing. They shop with friends, stop for coffee, and have lunch. Shopping becomes experiential, not purely transactional.
The in-store sale is a perfect opportunity to upsell, thereby increasing your average transaction value. Shoppers are in your store to buy something. That makes them perfect candidates for a sale. It's up to you to engage them. Talk about what’s new. If you’re excited, your customer will get excited. They’ll tell you if they want to be left alone to browse. The ‘no service’ approach to customer service doesn’t work.
The loss leader
The longer you carry stock unsold, the higher will be your Cost of Goods Sold (COGS). We’re all familiar with seasonal sales. But the term SALE ON NOW has become a cliché and has therefore lost its potency as a buying trigger. As I told a retailer recently, sometimes you need to rattle the cage. That might mean making a few sacrifices on margin. Take your lowest selling item, and publish it on Facebook and Instagram at the lowest price you can. Make sure you say there is ONE ONLY. The next day, do the same with a different product line. Now do this for 5 successive days. Two things will happen. You will get noticed and raise your brand awareness. But you will also drive customers into your store.
Integrating your brand across channels
This is where it all comes together.
Your Website or Shopify site needs a strong home page. I see too many home pages that look like a product category grid. You have a beautiful retail space but you don't show it online. Your physical store needs to be a showcase for your product lines and your brand. Your online store is a brand positioning opportunity as well as a transactional channel. When you run a multichannel retail platform, your brand essence and messaging need to be completely consistent.
Facebook is your PR and Marketing channel. Again, it needs to connect your brand with your online store and your retail space. Your social platform is a way for you to start a conversation about your brands, your unique point of difference and constantly promote offers. eg. yesterday Myer sent me an "anniversary offer' of $10 off certain brands. Now $10 doesn't make me want to drop everything and go shopping, but it made me click on the link to see what was on offer and put an idea in my head about buying a sweater I don't need :)
Email marketing. My local GoVita health food store had a massive day last Saturday. They hold Super Saturday once a month with a 20% off offer. This store is located in a shopping centre facing diminished traffic due to a major retailer leaving the centre. Yet the store was packed. By cleverly pitching a strong offer via their email database, they became a destination, and an example, of overcoming the limitations of location constraints. You need to build a customer database from all your sales as a platform for your online marketing activity. You can then build lookalike audiences in Facebook to reach new customers with similar behaviours and likes. That's how you reach new and like-minded audiences.
Retailing is not easy. It has many moving parts. But if you have a process-driven strategy with an end goal in mind, and you measure your key metrics on a weekly basis, you can transform your existing store into a multichannel business and enjoy the ride.
Sources. A.T. Kearney, Business Insider, CMO by Adobe, Deloitte, Ebay, Econsultancy, Forbes, Forrester, Google, International Business Times, Instagram, Retail Touchpoints, Ripen Ecommerce, Shopify, Statista, TechCrunch, US Government Census, Zendesk.
In this 4 part series, I cover the key strategic areas that will bring you measurable results online and put you in a commanding position over your competitors. The complexity of today’s online business channels is brought about by the many moving parts that all need to work together to achieve your objectives. Whether you’re a small business owner, a CEO or a line manager, this series aims to help you achieve your KPI’s and demystify the hype. Let's go!
Business has only 2 function - Marketing and Innovation - Philip Kottler.
Great websites are not accidents. And they need to provide a marketing and sales platform to your business, otherwise, why bother? Here are 13 important insights that will ensure your online platform is off to flying start.
1. Content - have a plan before you start. I've designed hundreds of websites and very few briefs start with the word Objectives. How do you create a pathway when you’re not clear on your destination? Write down exactly what you want/need your website to do. Then work backwards from the end point. e.g.
3. What is your goal? - What are you selling? Is it awareness, membership, tangible products, a service or information? Define exactly what action you’d like your visitor to take, then structure everything around that outcome.
3. Flowchart your pages and give structure to your content. I find it useful to use a blank piece of paper and simplify the chain of events.
Site users want to be able to do something. Create links to other content. Buttons are good. Use them as a call to action (CTA), don’t just say SUBMIT (e.g., Book Now, Enquire Here, Learn More etc). Anchored links are great for long scrolling pages. A START HERE button can take you further down the home page where you have more opportunity to tell your story. From here, drive customers toward your end goal by using a BUY NOW or START YOUR FREE TRIAL NOW button.
4. Create a graphic language. Don’t use any old colour. Use your brand/logo palette. If you don’t have one, create one. Colour evokes feeling. Consider applying coloured backgrounds to title boxes to create a more dynamic page structure. Adobe has created a brilliant colour palette tool. (https://color.adobe.com)
5. Be evocative. Every page is a touchpoint to your brand, your philosophy, your unique difference. Challenge your audience to take notice. Engagement creates memorability.
6. Use content wisely. Have breakout quotes that highlight your key message. Breakouts should be in a heading style or (<H> tag), to gain prominence with search engines. Make long copy more interesting by pulling out the key phrase to your message and putting it into a breakout box as a title or in italics. Let your time-constrained audience scan a page quickly and see the key take-outs.
7. Treat your start page as exactly that. (not a typical home page). It is a portal into what lies ahead. Bring your best snippets to the surface. Your home/start page should contain a cross section of your entire content with clear buttons to assist your visitor in becoming a customer in one or two clicks.
8. Navigation. Make it as flat as you can and as simple as you can get away with. Less is better. Hide extraneous pages from the navigation list. The only way to access them is through a page link. People are time poor. Don’t make them think. Keep it simple.
85% of websites today are viewed on a smartphone ~ and 70% of these break!
9. Testimonials. A good endorsement or review is gold and worth more to you in establishing initial trust than any other single site attribute. Bring at least one to the home page, or use a scroller if you have more than one. Highlight the killer phrase or comment only. You can publish the testimonial elsewhere. e.g. “Our sales increased by more than 50% in the first month as a result of your product”
11. Mobile Responsive. We’ve finally reached the tipping point. Around 85% of all websites are now accessed by smartphone or tablet, not desktop computers. Yet around 70% of all websites are not Mobile Responsive (they don’t automatically adjust to a mobile browser and therefore are often illegible). Is it time for an upgrade? Test your site your now. (https://search.google.com/search-console/mobile-friendly)
12. The single page site. Is it possible to distil your idea and purpose down to a single scrolling page using only buttons and links to drive your prospective customer to a conclusive action? Yes, it is. A single page site is the Holy Grail a great end user experience.
13. Where to from here? Are you starting a new project or is it time for an upgrade? Where do you start? Hire a designer? Or a Do-It-Yourself Drag & Drop website builder? Or something in between? Web design technology has undergone a revolutionary transformation in your favour. You no longer need to spend $000’s with a designer, starting from a blank page. There are many great Do-It-Yourself options available. If you’d rather focus on your strengths then you can have a high-end site done for you for as little as $500 and you simply manage the site on-going for around $19 per mth. Check out (www.miomondo.com.au)
Whatever solution you choose, make sure it offers the capability to make changes in-house without incurring fees from your web designer or agency. If your proposed solution doesn’t run on a Content Management System (CMS), find one that does! The web design world has evolved in your favour. You’re better served to use those funds for your AdWords or Social Media Advertising and create powerful sales channels to your landing page…. (but that’s an entirely separate and upcoming topic).
In an age of hyper-competition, commoditisation, globalisation and rapid media obsolescence, marketers are struggling to find new conceptual bases on which to design and deliver their marketing programs. The haunting truth is that traditional marketing is failing. Today’s marketplace is no longer responsive to the strategies that worked in the past. There are simply too many products, too many companies and too many messages.And if mainstream media is a wounded beast then marketers have become disoriented hunters.
Consumers themselves are now becoming the opinion leaders and brand evangelists via social media channels. So how do today's brand custodians influence the influencers?
Perception or reality?
Brands have a remarkable ability to impact the way people view products. Consumers rarely just see a product or service; they view the product through the lens of the brand. and its through this brand association that they view themselves. It’s like being at school and hanging out with the “right” kids. Perception becomes that person’s reality and is far more important than the absolute truth.
Is Dom Pérignon the best champagne in the world? Ray Ban the best eye wear? Or Converse the best sneakers? Brand managers can't create this perception. Only public opinion can. That's why companies spend so much money on product placement and product giveaways to A listers. If they can get an important social influencer to be seen wearing/driving/drinking their product then public opinion begins to take shape.
Getting into the game
The good old days of the ad agency largesse are coming to an end. Throwing messages into the ether, however beautifully crafted, is losing its impact and its audience. Marketers need to hang out where their audience hangs out and become part of the conversation.
And social media is the meeting place for these conversations. Anecdotes, events, photos and videos are all part of the dialogue. And the good news for the modern marketer is that brand distinction has never been more relevant.
A modern tribal culture
This new social free-for-all is not homogenous. Commodities have no place in this world. Facebook has become a tribal hub of “friends” and “like” minded individuals. Twitter has become the cult leader of opinion with its flocks of followers. In this writhing mass of messaging, the individual need for a point of difference has never been stronger. The brand differential is now EVERYTHING.
Ronny Ruhlmann began his career as an award-winning Website designer, having designed and built his first website for Honda in 1997. He currently devotes most of his time to working with CEO's to deliver integrated strategic business outcomes. He is passionate about life, design and the Internet User Experience. He is Founder and Managing Director of cloud-based website builder, Miomondo.com.au.