Written by Chris Allen of BePoz
If you operate a retail outlet, you may have both a storefront and an online presence. The question is, how do you keep customers engaged and buying in both locations?
Your physical store and your online store have separate strengths. You need to play to those strengths, and use them effectively to market to your customers. What are customers looking for online? What are they looking for when they visit your store in person? Give them what they want and they will come back for more.
When they shop online, people are generally in a hurry. If they had extra time, they would probably come into your store. Cater to their desire for speed. Do not design a website or shopping app that is too complex— make it as easy as possible for your customers to find the items they need. Do not require a customer login or registration unless you have a compelling reason to do so.
Once the customer has purchased an item from you once, you know something about him or her. Use a cookie or other web tracking technique, so that you will recognize the customer when they return to your online store.
Make sure the items he or she purchased last time are displayed, along with similar items or items that complement what they already own. By tracking customer preferences and spending habits, you can customize the shopping experience over time to match each customer’s desires and habits.
Another option is to use your online presence to draw users into your physical store. When a customer orders an item online, be certain that he or she is given the option to pick up the item in your store. Whatever a customer buys, your store associate should have available a list of complementing items that the customer may be interested in purchasing. Once again, you are giving your customers the impression that you care about their needs, and that you’re willing to go out of your way for them.
What are your customers looking for when they visit your store in person? In general, they are expecting a more leisurely shopping experience. Customers who come into your store are often looking to touch or try out items. In a clothing store setting, be sure clothes that work together are grouped on the display floor, along with appropriate accessories. When a customer goes into a fitting room, the associate should note what clothes they have, and be ready to make apt suggestions. Make your customers feel like they are shopping at a high-end boutique by offering them top-notch service.
Just as your online store encourages users to visit your store in person, you can use your storefront as a gateway to your online store. Encourage your customers to use smartphones or mobile devices in your store by offering free Wi-Fi. When they use their devices to scan barcodes or product labels, customers should be directed to more in-depth information about your products, including extended sizes and matching items. Just as before, make your customers feel valued and cared for, and they’ll be more willing to spend their hard-earned dollars in your store.
These are reasons that your online store and physical store should be different. But there are ways in which they should be the same. Online or in-person, you and your store are a single brand. Keep colors, fonts and style consistent from one to the other. If your stores have an industrial vibe, it does not make much sense for your website to have a white and cream color palette. If your stores are decorated in soft, feminine textures and pastel colors, your website should match.
Every store has a personality all its own. Do your sales associates welcome customers and approach them as soon as they enter the store? Your website should behave in a similar way. Use a splash screen that welcomes users to your online store. Give them easy-to-recognize options to get help if they need it.
If you prefer a more hands-off approach, where customers are free to explore and your staff only assists when asked to do so, make your website follow this trend. The options to get assistance should still be easily visible on your website, but they should not be the center of attention.
Online or in-store, your goal as an entrepreneur is to keep customers happy. Give them what they want no matter where they are, and they’ll be your customers for life.
About the Author:
Chris Allen is a leading authority on POS systems and delivering customized value to business through software. Chris serves as the BePoz Chief Executive Officer, a custom point of sale software provider. You can follow Chris Allen on Google+