It seems like every day, the world is changing, and the CDC is coming out with new information on how to stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic. With every restriction lifted, more people are out and about, traveling, and increasing consumer spending. Questions are still looming on if consumers will continue to shop solely online or if they'll return to their brick-and-mortar ways. If you are a retail business that survived the pandemic thus far, you most likely made a move to sell online.
E-commerce can be lucrative in multiple ways, including, but not limited to:
- Higher profit margins.
- Reaching a larger audience.
- Carrying more products that are determined by square footage.
Brick-and-mortar is also a very beneficial business model. With more consumers returning to and possibly running to shop in stores again, how, as business owners, do you keep customers engaged online?
Here is the good news: e-commerce spending is expected to continue to accelerate. Adobe Analytics recently released a study that projects e-commerce spending to hit $1 trillion by 2022. Worldwide, Finaria launches a 10% year over year increase of 3.8 billion. By 2025, Finaria forecasts the number of e-commerce users worldwide will reach 4.9 billion. Even with vaccine rollout and the opening of multiple countries' economies, the experts say that consumers will still be spending online. Despite the continued dollars spent online, there is a new phenomenon due to the pandemic called analysis paralysis. Analysis paralysis, coined by Square, is when buying choices can cause stress, leading consumers to abandon shopping altogether. This can be both in-store and online. While it can only speculate the reasons for this behavior, it leaves dollars left on the table. Shop owners and online sellers alike have to react to their target market and find out where or when they abandon their purchase to analyze further.
What we do know is that consumers are continuing to shop online as well as returning to shop in-store. It might just be mindless browsing, but you as a business owner can leverage the browsing to turn it into future revenue. In order you keep customers engaged in-store and online, you must treat them as separate revenues. While many in-store shoppers will dip their toes into online shopping, most online shoppers stick to the digital habit. Offering them different discount codes, having separate mailing lists, and additional messages ensure that while your branding stays the same, the target market changes based on consumer habits. When stores were closed and everyone had to go online, it was easy to focus on one group of people. Honestly, most of the company's original e-commerce visitors were their actual in-store visitors. Now, customers are finding new stores online from all over the world, and the same rules no longer apply.
It's a challenging world to balance; here are the ways to keep your in-store and e-commerce customers happy while running your business smoothly:
Train Employees on E-commerce and In-Store
Though you might be speaking to a different type of consumer, your target customer will most likely be the same, and you want the branding to be the same. Your online customers will wish the same product quality, level of customer service, and branding as it would be in stores. Cross-training your employees or creating a clear set of brand guidelines is essential for keeping customer relationships. Keep in mind that just because you keep your brand voice the same in your messaging, your e-commerce customer wants different things than your in-store customer, and you need to keep track of how to meet their unique needs.
Focus on Brand Trust
GetFeedback, a customer surveying site, notes that buyers who feel like they trust a seller will spend 67% more than new customers. Brand trust is crucial, crucial, crucial! Brand trust relies on customer service, product quality, consistency, and general brand icons/colors. Building brand trust from e-commerce to brick and mortar is vital. Nothing is worse than getting a quality product in stores online to receive what is supposed to be the same product, but the bad quality or broken or smaller than projected or a different color. Consistency in product quality, return policies, and even packaging is essential. If you want a customer to be shopping both in stores and online, then you'll like them to know that they'll get the same experience in either scenario. Build trust, make more.
Offer Online Purchase for In-store
If you haven't heard of curbside pickup, then welcome to 2021! Target, Walmart, and Kroger have invested in their curbside and in-store pickup abilities. It allows customers to shop and purchase online but pick up in-store (generally within hours of purchase). This is an excellent option for customers who want something now but would instead scroll their computer to deal with the store's crowds. Creating an in-store or curbside option for small to medium-sized businesses opens up possibilities for your customers. Curbside and in-store pickup is just another way to connect your e-commerce and in-store customer experience.
When you're used to online shipping products, then that is where all of your time goes, but now that you're splitting your time between in-store selling and online selling, it's time to streamline all of your processes! Shipping is such a large part of e-commerce, and it can take up a ton of time. Whether you are shipping directly from a store or a warehouse, it can take time away from other parts of your business. Hiring a shipping solution, like DesktopShipper, will help reduce the time you handle shipping and allow for you to spend more time in the other parts of your business.
If you introduced e-commerce to your business in 2020, you know the challenges of setting up an online store and all that comes with it. Now that you have the e-commerce thing down, you are right back to retail or brick and mortar, bringing other challenges. Don't let one part of your business go to waste. Best business practices and customer relations need to integrate all sides of your business seamlessly.