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.
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, OnePage.com.au.