Many brick and mortar retailers both here in New Zealand and elsewhere, love to complain that online retailers such as Amazon are killing them.
Yes, online is affecting all of us, but you can minimize online retail from eating your lunch if you are proactive and up for the fight.
Here Are 8 Ways You Can Stop Online Sales From Eating Away Your Local New Zealand Brick and Mortar Retail Business:
1. Do a better job with those in your store.
The soft skills of engaging a stranger are not in as many employees’ toolkits these days. A lot of employees may think they are doing a great job, but from the shopper’s perspective they aren’t. That’s why you have to know your customer journey, what you want shoppers to feel when they first walk in, and what employees should choose to say to them after they buy. You must have a relentless focus to be curious about, to understand, and yes…to sell your shopper if you want to keep them from jumping online.
2. Have more employees on the floor.
One of the biggest reasons people jump on their phones is to find information. The fewer employees you have, the more shoppers will grow impatient. Don’t give them a reason to go online! If they do, have your employees well trained and able to poke holes in online retailers’ claims about the same product. Make sure they’re able to compare and contrast offers and models and that they can show what the shopper gets right now compared to waiting.
3. Provide services.
Yes, events are fun but oftentimes not worth the expense. Think different. Think bigger. Add services that add to shopper convenience but can’t be easily price-shopped online. What would shoppers pay for that makes their lives easier? How about adding styling services in partnership with a local salon? How about offering assembly or moving services? Collaborating with other service providers behind the scenes will allow you to be a true one-stop shop.
4. Have your own online store.
You do need a way for your customers to buy from you 24/7. No, I still believe you can’t compete with Amazon, who are responsible for 55% of searches online…they’re basically a search engine connected to a warehouse. But, your customers are expecting to buy from those they trust - when they want, where they want, and how they want. Start your online store with your top 25 items then expand to your top 50-100. Make sure to mention your site to everyone. With platforms such as Shopify, it’s not as hard as you think to get started quickly, and without a huge investment.
5. Connect your website to your POS.
The big boxes have done this for awhile. There are many ways savvy merchants are using new technologies to allow shoppers to buy from them directly, either through drop ship from manufacturers or by offering the ability to pickup in your store within a few hours. This can be a real time-saver for stressed out shoppers trying to cram all their errands and shopping into a Saturday morning. Again, it’s about convenience and giving the customer what they want.
6. Find new markets.
How many times do you go back to the same customer with the same offers? Say you’re a bike shop and you had a successful charity ride last year, so you send out the same invitation to join this year. Instead, go to a new charity to expose your business to a new market. Go to your online competitors’ sites and see what organizations they support to see which could be a good fit for you.
7. Reach new (but similar…) customers.
Take note, this is a game-changer! What if you could find people online who are just like your customers and market to them? Here’s how. Take all of your customer emails – you do have those right? Organize them into a spreadsheet. Create a Custom Audience on Facebook then upload your list to the Facebook Ad Manager. After you have created that custom audience, create another Custom Audience but choose the option Lookalike Audience. These are people Facebook believes are like those who purchased from you. Filter down your custom audience to your local post codes or towns. Next install the Facebook tracking pixel on your site, create ads that feature your best items and services, and analyze your results. Find out more here.
8. Broadcast in real time.
What if your shoppers could see what you just got in instead of having to wait for someone else’s website to show them? Resale stores are wising up to the opportunity to beat online retailers by holding merchandise shows using Facebook’s live streaming feature. A bonus is this gives your younger employees a chance to partner in your success and show their personalities.
To Sum It Up
Online retailers push you to excel. The only constant in business is change. Change or die. But, don’t try and compete on price alone - do that and you have already lost, there is no way you can compete on just price against Amazon etc. If you do, it just becomes a race to the bottom. Remember, price is what you pay, value is what you get. Focus on offering more value to your customers, by doing things that the big online guys can’t do...
If you are up for the challenge, you need more people-trained employees on the floor. You need to add more services, have more integration between your own online and brick and mortar store, and hold a winning attitude in the face of it all. Focus on the people – who you allow on your floor, how well they are trained in the soft selling skills, and how engaged they are with your shoppers first.
Then use technology to focus on the customer – both in your store and online by providing an exceptional experience every time.
Do that and you will win!