Although we have seen a huge shift towards online shopping in the past few years, the fact still remains that old school brick-and-mortar stores offer enough benefits to stay relevant in the digital age. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can go ahead and open up an old timey mom and pop shop and just rely on word of mouth advertising and your loyal customers from the neighborhood.
Times have changed and the way you do business needs to change as well, but business owners with brick-and-mortar stores are in quite a unique position – by using a few online marketing tricks while still focusing on providing a unique in-person service, you can get the best of both worlds.
Here are a few things you can do to stay relevant and bring your store straight into the digital age.
Make Your Store More Mobile-Friendly
Everyone has their smartphone in their hands for most of the day, and you can take advantage of this fact. There are a number of ways that you can allow your customers to get the most functionality out of their phones in your store:
– The use of QR codes – by simply having a QR code on each product, you can allow customers to scan each item using their phone, and gain access to tons of incredibly useful information, e.g. available sizes and colors, reviews, suggested accessories and items that go well with that product, etc.
– The use of tablets and interactive software – you can arm your employees with a few tablets and install all manner of cool apps that can help improve the average customer’s shopping experience. There are lots of options from dress up apps that allow shoppers to quickly mix and match different outfits or look at different color options, to videos that show the product in action.
With a few changes like the ones above, people will feel much more comfortable in store and no one will have to wait for someone to walk up to them and offer help.
Turn Your Website Into a Window-Shopping Heaven
Now, you want your customers to come on down to the store where your employees can make a sale and get them excited about staying for longer and making a few extra impulse buys, but a good website can actually help you lure more customers in. For one thing, you can add a click and collect functionality, where customers can take their time and choose what they like online, from the comfort of their own home, and then just come over and pick it up at their earliest convenience.
Another great thing about this is that you can let them spend some time on the site and create a wish list, even though they currently don’t have the money to spend, which is a lot more comfortable and pleasant than window shopping in person and having the store clerks roll their eyes at you.
The best thing is that they’ve already invested time and effort, gotten familiar with your store, and chosen exactly what they want, so as soon as that paycheck comes they will run straight for your doors.
Inspire Your Employees to Become Brand Ambassadors on Social Media
A lot of people, and especially businesses, are still somehow social media illiterates, which is a huge shame. There is great potential in social networks as a marketing tool, but you need to know how to play the game. It’s best to let your hip young millennial employees do all the talking for you, by giving them some sort of incentive for sharing some of your blog content and promoting your brand on social media.
A slight pay bump for a few minutes of clicking and a few nice sentences about your company should be a win-win scenario. You can have them post a few fun “behind the scenes” photos of them goofing around or having a good time, alert people about sales and promotions and just generally talk about things that people might want to know about your industry.
Despite what some people would have you believe, brick-and-mortar stores are still going strong, as people will never get rid of the need to step in and try things out for themselves or interact with another person who can tell them more about a product. As long as you can put some effort into building an online presence and reaching out to your customers both online and offline, creating an exceptional user experience in the process, your store will be full of customers in no time.
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