When it comes to the brick and mortar store vs. online shipping debate, there is no denying that online shopping is gaining a strong foothold. Online shopping is rising quickly, especially when compared to brick and mortar store sales. The figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau show online stores and mail-order businesses have grown by 27% from 2011 to 2012. Compare that to the measly 0.1% growth experienced by traditional storefronts, and the future doesn’t look bright for brick and mortar operations.
Brick and Mortar Store vs. Online Shopping: Are Traditional Storefronts Doomed?
Is brick and mortar retail dead now? How can brick and mortar stores win this uphill battle against the Amazon and eBay giants of the e-commerce world? What does it take for brick and mortar store survival? The broad answer is that brick and mortar retail is far from doomed. With personalized shopping experiences and innovative marketing strategies, your store can enjoy and sustain revenue growth. Establish a Brand for Your Brick and Mortar Retail Store Establishing a brand for your brick and mortar retail store is essential for a number of reasons. First, you want to set your business apart from your competitors. Why should customers choose you? Secondly, you want your store to stick in their minds. When they have a need, they should remember your business. Third, you want to effectively get across your key message as quickly as possible. Define your unique selling point (USP) — what sets you apart from the rest. Develop a tagline that conveys your USP. Use your tagline wherever you can, including letterhead, invoices, and signage. Create a memorable logo that you can use to strengthen your established brand and feature your logo prominently everywhere you can. Make It Easy for Customers to Contact You If a customer wants to contact you, you want to ensure they have the easiest time doing so. You don’t want them to be forced to take any more steps than necessary. Create a local and toll-free number that is memorable. Back up this phone number with trained staff. For afterhours, consider using a service that can answer calls on your behalf. If that isn’t the right solution for your business, use voicemail and make sure the outgoing message includes all key information: your hours, location and website address. Display your phone number prominently on your website at the top of every page. Include your address on the bottom of every page, and make sure your website has a page with directions to your location.
Take Advantage of Brick and Mortar Experiences
The ultimate advantage of brick and mortar stores is a personalized, memorable and human shopping experience. For brick and mortar stores, advantages like these need to be exploited. For one, shoppers like to see your products in hand. Looking at it on a computer or tablet doesn’t feel as gratifying as when they walk into a store and see a wealth of products to look at. Humans, and shoppers in general, are kinetic creatures — they want to not only see the product, but also feel and hold it. Once it’s in their hands, it feels like theirs. Shopping has deep psychological roots. Music, smells, lighting, layout, and colors all play a role in the shopping experience. Create an environment where shoppers want to buy, and your store will experience more sales. It sounds easy, but atmosphere is often overlooked. Along with a mood for buying, the actual transaction should be seamless. Not only will this stop any second-guessing from your shoppers, but it will also encourage impulse purchases. You need to have the right equipment and technology in place to make purchasing your goods and services as easy as possible for your customers. The Clover Station may be perfect for your business. Clover is preloaded with just about anything you could ever want when it comes to the point of sale. The best part is it operates within the Cloud, allowing you to move about your store and still be able to monitor your operations internally and be one step ahead of the game. You can gauge your success, know where you need to improve, maximize your merchandising and perform even the simplest of bookkeeping tasks — all right on your smartphone. Generating reports, verifying purchases, managing inventory, and tracking revenue is easy with Clover.
Opening a New Business? Roll Out the Red Carpet and Have a Truly Grand Opening
By “grand” opening, we don’t mean advertising in a few papers and passing out a few flyers about your new business opening. Go the extra mile. Make it spectacular. After all, they call it a “grand opening” for a reason. Use a number of buzz-generating marketing methods: press releases, commercials, radio advertisements, and speaking engagements. Don’t just pass out a few flyers at the mall saying, “hey, we’re opening, check us out.” Get it to spread like wildfire. Make a big display about it and have catered food, door prizes and other cool activities to get prospects excited about your new brick and mortar store opening up. Additionally, you’ll want to collect names and addresses, ask for business cards and get the networking bug passed around. These are effective ways to go “viral” without having to post anything online.
Don’t Stop There — Keep Running Promotional Events
It’s easy to think that the brick and mortar retail store can self-sustain like a well-oiled machine, but you must understand that this industry is a fickle beast. Customers frequently change their minds, without much of a reason. Before you know it, the concept of brick and mortar stores vs. online shopping can go by the way of the landslide and produce a sad outcome for the traditional storefronts. Customers won’t want to get in the car and take a drive to your store. They will prefer to stay home, get on the computer, and pull out the credit card to make an immediate and convenient purchase. Your customers will only want to make the trip to your store if you’re fired up about having them there. Get the excitement started with in-store raffles, giveaways, speaking engagements with local celebrities, book signings and contests. Interestingly enough, these types of promotional events don’t even necessarily have to be directly involved in your actual industry. Promotional events can drive interest to your store to keep customers inside long enough to think about buying your product. That’s all. It’s like casting a net out and hauling in tons of swordfish — not because they wanted to get caught, but because your net was so wide.
Continue Leveraging All Sorts of Traditional Media
Many people still read the newspaper, and many still listen to the radio. Even better, those mediums exist online as well, so you might as well populate those digital and traditional air waves as much as possible. You’ll generate some preliminary interest in media that will then filter out to the masses. As customers leave your brick and mortar retail store, let them know about upcoming sales or new product/service releases. Create marketing materials, such as flyers and brochures. Ensure your printed materials match your established brand and look professional. Pass out your business cards, flyers and other literature to everyone leaving your store. Hopefully, they will pass it along to friends and family. This is called exponential lead generation — when you talk to someone, and that someone will talk to three others, and those three others will then talk to twenty others in total. The end result can be a wildfire spread about your brick and mortar retail store to the point that the next day, you just might find a long line of hopeful customers looking to see the best deal you have to offer. When it comes to brick and mortar marketing, word-of-mouth advertising is often the best. It doesn’t just have to be literature either. Get shirts made that feature your logo. Pass them out and have your staff wear them. Include your tagline on pens. The most effective promotional items are those that your target audience would find useful — such as mugs, chip clips and letter openers.
Get Your Name Out in the Community: Innovative Marketing Ideas for Brick and Mortar Retail Stores
There are plenty of ways to engage with the community while establishing your local presence.
Marketing Ideas For Brick
& Mortar Retail Stores
|Hosting an after-hours event for your staff and their friends/family.|
|Joining a Chamber of Commerce and attending the many networking events.|
|Holding an open house and inviting the press and key city officials.|
|Sponsoring a charity and marketing your support for the worthy cause.|
|Joining a trade association and getting involved with their meetings and events.|
|Conducting regular seminars in which you can provide industry information that would be useful to others.|
|Developing a local TV commercial.|
|Sponsoring a local TV news station.|
|Submitting articles to local newspapers, trade journals and other publications.|
|Holding an award contest in which the prize is a gift card to your store.|
|Having a presence in local parades.|
|Sponsoring local sporting events.|
Make News for Yourself
Traditional media outlets, such as local TV and radio, can provide coverage that gets your business name out there. The most successful businesses don’t wait for the news media to contact them — they create the story. For example, plan a charity day where a portion of your proceeds benefit a worthy cause. Come up with a catchy name for the event, send a press release to the media outlets, and contact news and radio stations to see if they are willing to do a segment at your location on the day of the event. Turn your location into a celebration for the charity with decorations, lighting and wearables.
Work Well With Local Media
While creating a story is a great way to market your business, you also want to be prepared for when the story happens to you. Create a press kit and keep it updated with current information, including brochures and press releases. Include the press kit as a downloadable file on your website. Another way to work with the media is by being useful to them. That means providing them with the expert advice they need to improve the quality of a story. Pay attention to what’s happening both locally and nationally. If a story develops that fits with your industry knowledge, make contact with local media outlets and see if you can help provide expert insight into the events.
Take Advantage of Online Marketing: It’s How to Grow a Brick and Mortar Store
If you’re looking for how to grow a brick and mortar store, there’s one piece of advice that all businesses of every size and industry should follow: have an online presence. In today’s world, without a website, you’re virtually invisible to a large chunk of your target audience. Your first step is getting your website live. Ideally, you’ll work with a professional design company that can integrate powerful search engine marketing into your site. If you don’t have a budget for a professional design, there are plenty of services online that enable you to design a professional-looking site for less. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that your site is clean, establishes your brand, showcases your products and services, allows customers to find you and easily contact you, and positions you as a leader in your industry. Your site text should be error-free and contain keywords that your target audience would use to find your business. Regularly update your site and offer incentives for visiting often. This includes industry insider tips and tricks, along with regularly updated events and sales. Once you have your site up and running, you need to include your web address on everything you can, from business cards and signage to invoices and bags.
Build Your Credibility With Testimonials
Testimonials are a powerful form of word-of-mouth. They are key to building relationships with new customers as they establish your credibility and expertise. Start gathering testimonials from your loyal customers. Ask if they would be willing to offer a review of your business. Then, feature testimonials on your website and blog. Include them in your printed materials, too. From direct mail pieces to sales one-sheets, your testimonials can effectively sway potential buyers to become paying customers.
Word-of-mouth is one of the strongest marketing methods. People are significantly more likely to make a purchase if someone else had success with the product or service. In fact, according to a survey by Dimensional Research, 90% of respondents said positive online reviews influenced their buying decisions. While your reviews need to be natural and true, you can help correct any negative reviews, either directly or through general good practices. This means promptly addressing a customer’s concern in a professional manner. It also means consistently offering the best customer service.
Stay in Touch With Your Customers
You want people to know why your product is the best, why it’s a competitive brand, why it’s better, what it does, and why it does what it does. Ideally, you want your customers to think of you by name when they have a need. One of the best ways to achieve this is by remaining in contact with your database through email updates. Your first step is getting a customer database. Ideally, you should have a list developed by asking for email addresses at the time of checkout. If you don’t, you can buy lists as well. The key is to send out emails on a regular basis, but not so often that they delete you from their inbox. You should also address your customer by name in every email. This personalized form of brick and mortar marketing can wallop online shopping before the bell ever rings — as long as you stay consistent with it.
Host a Seminar or Workshop for Your Brick and Mortar Retail Store
One of the best ways to get your name out there, while establishing yourself as a business expert, is to host educational seminars and workshops. For example, let’s say you own an accounting firm. How do you promote education and interest in your services with a seminar or workshop? Offer some free tax-cutting tips. By sharing your industry knowledge, you can develop credibility and simultaneously bring in new business. You also need to promote that seminar or workshop. Use in-store signage, flyers, ads, and press releases — organize a team to help you spread the news around. Send out an email blast. Update your Facebook page with event information, and create an eye-catching banner on your website’s homepage. Wherever and whenever you can, talk about your upcoming workshop.
Use Online Advertising: It’s How Brick and Mortar Stores Can Win
While having an online presence is key, you also need to extend that presence as far as you can online. It’s the biggest way brick and mortar stores can win this battle with online shopping.
The Best Online Sites to
Generate the Most Buzz
Consider online advertisement, too. You’re essentially paying a small amount of money for a billboard to display clear across the world and back again. There’s power behind that and there’s power behind social media. Use it.
Make Your Customers Feel Good About Making a Purchase at Your Brick and Mortar Store
When it comes to building brand loyalty, you need to give your customers something when they shop at your brick and mortar store. Loyalty programs are the best way to achieve this. Not sure how to implement a customer reward program? Check out the efficient Perka Loyalty Marketing Platform. This innovative technological solution features a mobile outreach platform, promoting customer autonomy and visibility on the move with smartphones and tablets. In addition, you can get fast social media outreach, business analytics and mobile rewards functionality. Your customers benefit from instant access to deals while in the store at that moment.
Drum Up New Business With Gift Cards
Gift cards are one of the easiest ways to generate new business. Your customers get an easy form of gift-giving and you get a guaranteed sale — and if you’re lucky, even an up-sale. People will not only redeem a gift card, but they’re likely to spend something additional to make up for some difference. It may not have been free for them to purchase, but it certainly resulted in a great deal and discount. You should be offering gift cards and marketing them for all major shopping events, including Black Friday, Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, graduations and birthdays. Standardize some kind of marketable gift card, and you’ve broken into a niche that almost guarantees you get a customer per card. If you’re looking for a way to implement a gift card setup, we have an effective solution. The Native Merchant Services Gift Cards system is a turnkey program with quick and easy setup, fraud protection, customization, data, analytics and cutting-edge technology. The Native Merchant Gift Cards system is quick, easy, convenient and simple.
Analyze Your Customer Data for Effective Brick and Mortar Marketing
Analytics and customer data are crucial to developing your best business strategies. They are essential to creating the brick and mortar marketing that will get business through your door. You don’t just want customers to come to your brick and mortar retail store — you want loyal customers, return customers and high-paying customers. In order for you to find out who they are, what they’re buying, when they’re buying and how often they’re buying, you need a way to monitor the customer data and tailor your merchandising, products and services to match their needs. The instant result is an increase in revenue. Insightics, a system designed to organically bring in new customers without having to do any additional marketing or advertising, is a cost-effective way to harness the power of analytics. This database is designed to essentially categorize and characterize your customers. You can fine-tune your entire floor with the product designated as “top sellers.” Stock up your inventory with that top seller and watch the money roll in. Additionally, this system allows you to target more customers like the ones who are considered the top customers in your demographic. For example, are barbecue grills in your store selling like hotcakes? Great. Tailor your marketing initiatives to approach more of your customer base that’s interested in grills. One of the key steps to marketing effectively is knowing your customers and how to label them — new, repeat or local, for example. Once you better understand your target audience, you’ll be able to more effectively use different marketing techniques. For instance, repeat customers will often respond to email blasts. Ideally, you’ll have your repeat customers physical addresses listed on your database. You can then keep them updated on your products, sales and promotions with direct mail pieces. You can tackle new customers with events, designed to get those newbies excited about not only your products, but also your actual store. Local customers can be effectively targeted through signage and outdoor advertising. Do you notice a trend in some of your best customers coming from a particular area close to your store? Flood that area with your marketing materials, and you’ll most likely get some sort of response from them, especially when you know that they might be interested in a product you’re advertising already. It’s also important to make your business stand out from the rest by knowing your competition. Gather as much information as you can about online and brick and mortar stores in your industry. Compare your sales, and be prepared for competitive prices. Think ahead when delivering sales and promotions.
The Power of Brick and Mortar Marketing — “Fighting the Future”
The future may look like online is winning over brick and mortar, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Keep delivering what your customers deserve and expect: quality customer service, top products and a personalized shopping experience. Market what you offer aggressively and creatively. Even in the face of increased online shopping, you can hold your own and help your business thrive. So is brick and mortar retail dead? Absolutely not.