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Saving Brick and Mortar: How Embracing an Online Presence Could Save Your Business

It’s been a difficult time for brick and mortar storefronts everywhere. More and more retailers are struggling to maintain customer loyalty and as a result, store closures, bankruptcy and liquidation has frequented the news in the past few years. With many brick and mortar stores finding it difficult to compete with online giants such as Amazon, it’s evident that a lack of online presence may be a contributing factor.

Just recently, toy retailer, Toys ‘R’ Us Inc. announced their plan to close and liquidate inventory at their 735 US stores and 100 stores in the UK after a failed attempt to sell the business. Toys ‘R’ Us, however, aren’t the only ones to fall victim to this retail apocalypse. New Look and Debenhams are also facing store closures around the UK.

It seems, though, that retailers effectively managing a transition to online are not only succeeding, but thriving. Walmart, for example, has recently partnered with Google to offer voice activated shopping and has invested money in online delivery.

 

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The internet offers consumers more choices than ever before, with a multitude of products bought to them at a touch of a button. This means that product optimisation is important to maintain a competitive edge and visibility on every channel. Another reason why consumers are preferring to shop online is convenience. Being able to shop on multiple devices, through different channels at any time and in any place, is easier than spending fuel money and wasting time driving to a brick and mortar store.

Retailers, nowadays, with no online store must transition if they want to stay afloat. This is not to say, however, that retailers should move their entire business online and erase their high-street presence. It simply means that online and offline needs to come together in a more streamline, cohesive manner.

Before you panic, here a few methods that can help grow website traffic, drive customer clicks and conversion:

 

Don’t be afraid of new technology

    • Evaluate trends and find channels through which consumers are beginning to shop.
    • Using conversational artificial intelligence such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home will allow customers to order products with voice recognition. This could bring a high level of personalisation and convenience for customers.
    • Artificial intelligence can aid personalisation and in turn, customer experience in both online stores and brick and mortar. This can be applied to every stage of the order process; from customer service to logistics and delivery.

Although highly effective and innovative, they mean very little if not being managed by tech-savvy, talented employees. 

 

Streamline fulfilment process

  • This can be done by merging your brick and mortar storefront with your ecommerce store.
  • Offering features such as click and collect is a great way of doing this as it will not only make the customer journey more efficient but also encourage customers to make additional purchases once they are in your storefront.
  • Ensure that the checkout is simple and easy and consider shipping – how long will customers have to wait for delivery? (A drawback of online shopping is shipping price and wait-time). There is increasing pressure put on retailers now for next-day or even same-day delivery.


Online marketing strategies
  • If you’re spending your money on TV ads for example, consider reallocating that money into online. It will be cheaper, more effective and if you do it right, you’ll see an increase in customer conversion and clicks.
  • Search engine marketing (SEM), Social Media Marketing (SMM), video advertising and remarketing are just a few ways in which this can be achieved.

 

Social media:
  • With the success and widespread use of social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, using these to their full potential when transitioning to online is a no-brainer.
  • The ability to analyse when your audience are active, allows you to control when and how you are visible to social media users. There is no better way to maintain exposure and engagement with your audience.

Product data optimisation:
  • Exceptional and properly formatted product data is paramount to visibility across channels and marketplaces. The more relevant and accurate your product data is, the higher your products will appear on search listings. Click-through and customer conversion rates will rise too.
  • Paid Shopping (Google Online & Local and Bing Shopping) and Paid Social Campaigns (Facebook Dynamic Product Ads) all rely on product data. The higher quality it is, the better your product ads will perform.

Product content experimentation:
  • Experimentation is a great way to find out how best to format your product data.
  • Testing product content (titles, images and categories) allows you to examine what is more effective. For example, do your products rank higher in Google Shopping if the size or colour comes first in the title? What do your customers respond best to?
  • Read here to learn more about product content experimentation.

 

The struggle isn’t over. With the outcome of Brexit negotiations and reduced customer spending, 2018 is expected to bring new issues for the retail industry. It will become even more imperative to utilise an online presence, and with the advice listed above, you’ll be on your way to boosting website traffic, clicks and customer conversion rates.

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By powering optimum product data, Intelligent Reach helps retailers & brands optimise the offsite product discovery journey, ensuring no matter when or where your ideal customers interact, they will find your products and convert.

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