Imagine walking down Madison Avenue in New York or downtown in any bustling city and not seeing any storefronts. It’s not something many people would find desirable for their city or on their travels. Yet, the e-commerce space continues to grow at rapid speeds, causing brick-and-mortar businesses to suffer.
Of course, the convenience of online shopping will always be a major factor when it comes to where consumers choose to spend their money, but declining sales in brick-and-mortar stores can also be attributed to lack of innovation in the space. Stores have been running the same way for decades and haven’t changed much since the introduction of online shopping, and that lack of innovation is becoming very costly. The retail sector had approximately 662 bankruptcy filings in 2017, which was up 30% from the same period last year.
It used to be that you’d walk into a brick-and-mortar store and salespeople were the front line of your shopping experience. And while that is still the case today to some extent, the service levels have fallen significantly. With lower sales come reduced payroll budgets, hindering the service provided at these locations. The convenience of online shopping coupled with the declining service in stores is adding to the rapid growth of e-commerce business.
Brick-and-mortar stores are slowly becoming a thing of the past, but their sales techniques don’t have to.
Physical stores offer an experience you simply can’t get while sitting on your couch surfing the web. When you take a look at total retail sales, online sales are still a small portion in comparison, coming in at only 9% for 2017, meaning the remaining 91% of dollars are still spent in brick-and-mortar stores.
So how can e-commerce businesses replicate positive aspects of the in-person shopping experience? Let’s look at how tried and true brick-and-mortar strategies can be applied to grow e-commerce sales.
Product Marketing Is The New Front Line
Salespeople used to be the front line of the buying process, but today, consumers expect to make buying decisions without the help of a salesperson. In fact, many shoppers prefer an uninterrupted shopping experience, void of any sales staff. Furthermore, consumers have a plethora of knowledge at their fingertips with smartphones and quick access to comparison shop on the web.
This is why product marketing should be treated as the new front line. Just like greeters used to welcome each and every customer into physical store locations, marketing is what drives and welcomes consumers to online stores. Interactive websites, engaging home pages, and smart marketing campaigns are the name of the game today.
Treat Your Home Page Like Display Windows
Brick-and-mortar stores have entire teams dedicated to visual merchandising. These teams analyze sales reports to determine which products should be placed in prime locations, such as front windows and racks. And these merchandising decisions often lead to increased sell-through of the featured product.
The same level of attention should be paid to the home page of a website and more importantly, to above-the-fold content. Consumers should have a new and exciting experience when they revisit a site multiple times over a short period of time. Updating the home page as often as you would update display windows at physical stores is key, whether that be daily or weekly. A refreshed look gives the customer a reason to visit your store and sends the message that there is new product to browse.
Virtual Fit Assistants Are The New Fitting Rooms
Customers return approximately 40% of their online purchases, and it’s mostly because of sizing issues. Since online stores can’t offer customers the luxury of trying on products, adding a virtual fit assistant to websites, in lieu of fitting rooms, can eliminate some of the guesswork by predicting size based on customer’s exact height, weight, bust size, and personal preferences. Customers can input preferences such as how tight or loose they prefer their clothes to fit.
The technology can even use previous purchase history and size comparisons from other retailers to determine the size most likely to be the right fit. With the lack of consistency in sizing across retailers, this feature can go a long way in increasing customer confidence and in turn, sales.
Utilize Retargeting Like Catalog Mailers
Mailing print catalogs to customer’s homes used to drive traffic in-store and significantly increase sales. While some retailers still send out print catalogs and have success with them, the direct-mailer strategy has declined in popularity. Today the internet is essentially an electronic catalog, and should be utilized as such. We now have so much more information about what the consumer is looking for. And with the power to retarget consumers with the products they’ve shown interest in previously, businesses can increase sales by getting the right products in front of the right customer, at the right time.
Considering that only 2% of web traffic converts on the first visit, retargeting could be a major unlock to increase sales.
Remarket to your website visitors with the use of pixels, just like you used to obtain customer’s phone numbers and addresses to invite them to an in-store event or to send them mailers.
If you are still struggling to find the right way how to adapt your e-commerce business and build online presence, we can help you! Our team of web developers and marketing specialist will get your needs listed and prepare a strategic plan how to increase your e-commerce activities to get results.
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