How to Merge Your Brick-and-Mortar and E-Commerce Stores
Some businesses start in a brick-and-mortar building and expand to the digital world while others start online and eventually open up a physical store. If you run both an online and brick-and-mortar store, it’s imperative that you make it easy for customers to shop online and in-store. Here’s how to integrate the two for a seamless shopping experience across both channels.
Allow Online Customers to Pick Up In-store
Whether it’s because a customer wants to avoid a shipping fee, doesn’t want to wait for delivery, or wants to see the physical product before completing their transaction, some people prefer collecting a product they bought online at the physical store.
Allowing in-store pickups also means you won’t lose customers if your online store doesn’t have a specific product, size, or color in stock. Add a feature to your e-commerce shop that allows the customer to find and reserve the exact product at one of your physical locations.
Offer a Delivery Service to In-store Customers
A delivery service doesn’t only apply to online customers or to large items like furniture. There’s no reason you can’t ship in-store purchases of any size. Think of the customer on a shopping spree lugging around several shopping bags or buying a gift they would like shipped directly to the recipient. Don’t lose a sale because a customer doesn’t have an extra hand for another shopping bag. Offer in-store customers the same convenience your online customers enjoy — shipped products delivered quickly.
Offline and online stores usually run different point-of-sale (POS) systems. Using one POS for both your e-commerce and physical store makes it easier to keep track of sales and inventory and reduces the risk of accounting errors.
Integrating your POS systems doesn’t have to involve writing complicated code to make the two systems talk to each other. Some e-commerce platforms, like Shopify, offer store owners a retail point-of-sale system they can use in their physical stores. The setup is simple and all you need is a smartphone or tablet to run the POS software.
Using a portable integrated POS system means you can use it at events, trade shows, or popup stores. It’s also allows door-to-door sales reps to complete a sale, generate an invoice, apply discounts, and email receipts to customers on the spot.
Outsource to a Fulfilment Company
If you carry a large amount of stock, you’ll need a place to store it. If your brick-and-mortar store is small and you don’t have alternative storage space, you can outsource to a fulfilment company. A fulfilment company will store stock, keep an inventory, and ship orders on your behalf.
Staff at your physical store needs to focus on customers in the store. If their attention is split between assisting in-store customers and packing online orders, there’s a greater chance of orders being dispatched incorrectly. A fulfilment company like ShipStation will fill orders quickly and accurately and they integrate with major e-commerce platforms like eBay, Etsy, and Shopify.
Implement Proximity Marketing With Beacon Technology
According to Shopkick, 77 percent of shoppers use their mobile phone in-store to look up product information and compare prices. If shoppers are already in your store and engaging with your products on their smartphones, it makes sense to capitalize on this with proximity marketing campaigns.
Using beacon technology, you can communicate with customers in or near your store. Proximity marketing is the ultimate mix of online and offline in the retail world. It allows you to customize offers or highlight products based on a customer’s shopping history.
A beacon is a small wireless transmitter that emits Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) signals to nearby Bluetooth-enabled smartphones. If a shopper has downloaded the store’s app on their phone, this technology allows the store to send messages, notifications, deals, or promotions to their phone the minute they enter the store or are in close proximity.
Maintain Post-Purchase Engagement with Customers
Most marketing efforts focus on acquiring new customers. However, nurturing current customers and encouraging repeat business is equally important. Research shows that the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70 percent compared to a 5-20 percent probability of selling to new customers.
Post-purchase engagement provides the opportunity to upsell and cross-sell. Follow-up emails can recommend similar products, alert customers to promotions, and introduce new products. Clever online methods include sending replenishment emails that remind a customer to reorder a product or requesting a review to boost your social proof. Bounce-back coupons work well for both in-store and online customers as you can include them in shopping bags and delivery packages.
Synergy between your physical and e-commerce stores is crucial to retail success. Customers today expect seamless multi-channel integration. They want to shop with ease, whether on their smartphone, laptop, or in-store. If they can’t shop easily with your brand, they’ll quickly move on to another. Implementing an omnichannel strategy will win new customers and increase customer retention.