Do you own a brick and mortar store? Are you worried about your online competition? It’s a valid concern. In June 2016, the Wall Street Journal reported over 50 percent of surveyed consumers bought more online than in physical stores. Amazon, the leader in e-commerce, accounted for 60 percent of total online sales growth in 2015. Which shows how online shopping has accelerated in the past few years.
But does this mean the end of physical stores? And if not, how can stores compete? A survey done by TimeTrade had some insight into what customers are looking for in their shopping experience. Understanding the following points can keep customers coming back to you over the competition.
1. The personal connection
In the survey of 1029 shoppers, TimeTrade found that 70 percent would prefer to shop in an actual Amazon store, versus Amazon.com. A possible reason why? We all want knowledgeable advice that applies to our situation. We want to know that what we are buying will fit, or will be effective.
According to Retail Management Solutions, “Getting help and advice in store from one of your pharmacy staff members can make it significantly more likely that a customer will make a purchase.”
2. The efficiency factor
It can be hard to wait. Over one third of respondents said they don’t like waiting for items to ship. For those who value immediacy, between the two options of waiting a couple days for the item to arrive and running to a store, buying at a store wins. You can capitalize on this by becoming the go-to source for your product in your local area. Advertise in a local area newspaper. Make sure your business is listed in Google so that you will appear when shoppers are looking for an item you sell.
3. Habitual behavior in a community
Special sales on certain days can create a festive atmosphere around your store. Look for ways to celebrate occasions. For example, provide coupons for birthday months, or have a weekly back-to-work Monday afternoon sale. Ice-cream sales on Tuesdays.Cookie sales on Fridays.DVD sales on Saturdays. You want your shoppers to make you a part of their weekly or monthly shopping experience. So give them lots of reasons to come back.
4. Loyalty rewards
Brick and mortar stores offer products without a shipping fee, which is a strong selling point for shoppers to choose your store. But you can take that a step further by instituting a loyalty program. Loyalty programs can include a stamp card, a credit card that provides store credit, or a points/savings card.
5. Spectacular customer experience
According to a CEI survey, 86 percent of consumers will pay more for a better customer experience. But only 1 percent of customers say vendors meet their expectations. This insight into the consumer’s mind gives a firm starting point for how to win big over online shops. Focus on providing the customer with an experience that will live up to their expectations. How do you do that? Have your staff undergo training to better understand and anticipate the needs of shoppers. Also, listen to customer feedback and find out what they want. Online platforms are a great place to learn what your consumers have to say.
6. Social shopping
People are social beings. We naturally seek out a certain amount of connection with others. For those who live alone, shopping at a physical store becomes a form of social connection. And providing a positive experience to your customers is a way of giving them a positive social experience and a feeling of belonging. A bright and cheery greeting by a greeter, or the genuine interest that staff takes in a shopper can go far in improving a shopper’s day. The benefits are twofold. They end up happier, and you get a customer who will probably be back again.