Combining Your Online E-Commerce and In-Store Strengths

Running a physical location in tandem with an online store can give you a “best of both worlds” scenario. A physical brick-and-mortar store can lead to a high amount of local attention and help raise awareness for your business. Having an online store, though, means you can market and do business with people around the world.

Combining Your Online E-Commerce and In-Store Strengths

Yet, many people run the two sides of their business completely separately. They are afraid or unwilling to combine their efforts and provide benefits that come from having both platforms. If you want to bring even more benefits to your business, here are some tactics and approaches you can utilize.

Let People Buy How They Want

Let-People Buy How They Want

Giving people options on how to buy your products opens up your availability to more people. The more flexible you can be with how people can buy from you, the less barriers you have for consumers to give you money.

Let’s say a person wants to buy a product online, but doesn’t want to wait for it to ship. Not many stores currently make this available, outside of a few massive retail chains like Wal-Mart with online ordering and in-store pickup.

Yet, why not make this a possibility for your business? Many businesses force people that if they want to pay for something online, they have to get it shipped to them from their warehouse, even when that same product is available in their store. Give customers the option to pay for something online, and then pick it up in store.

On the flip side, if somebody comes to a store and finds a product they want, but maybe it’s not in the right size or out of stock, there is rarely an option to have that item shipped to them when it comes in. A normal consumer doesn’t want to make another trip to the store when it does come back in stock; they’d probably rather wait the extra day or two to get it in the mail.

This combination of physical store availability with the conveniences of online shopping creates a new realm for shopping. The key is getting people to try it out once, get hooked on it, and then wonder why they waited so long. Wal-Mart is pushing people to order online and pick up their groceries at the curb with exclusive discounts and savings. Offering a similar program might be all it takes to get tons of your customers on board with it and give people a reason to buy from you instead of your competitors.

Creating a Subscription Service

Taking this a step further, for many disposable products, people simply don’t want to do the work of remembering to pick it up in the store. One of Amazon’s growing services, “Subscribe and Save” lets customers create a recurring subscription for disposable products, like diapers, foods, or razors to be delivered on a regular basis.

If your shop sells a large amount of disposable products, or a very popular specific one, setting up a subscription service could transform customers who occasionally purchase from you into constantly returning customers. That makes the lives of your current fans much easier when it comes to buying. 

If your store sees people regularly come in to buy a specific product, your employees can suggest and help them set up a subscription; that way it can get sent directly to their home. Of course, to get them to initially agree to a subscription, you’ll need to offer a discount, but once they get used to the convenience, they’ll be much less likely to cancel.

Promote Your Website In-Store

Are you marketing your website to people inside your store? Are customers even aware of your site and the potential benefits it has? Are there items that are exclusively available through your site that you can’t or won’t sell in-store?

Promote your website inside your store. If you have specific benefits only available online, tell people about it. That way, they are aware that they could buy online, especially if something is out of stock in the store, but could be ordered to be delivered.

One possible way to promote your website is by utilizing digital signage that can display a feed of different online products next to their counterparts in the store. So, if you only sell one color of a specific product, but other color variations are available online, an electronic sign next to it could show all the different variations.

If promoting your website isn’t what you want, you could promote your business’s social media in-store with a live feed. Especially if you are very active on social media and it’s a big part of your branding, having a live feed of your Twitter or Facebook could raise awareness. That way, customers can see what you post about and might be interested in following you.

Stores Are More Trustworthy

Stores Are More Trustworthy

Online scams are everywhere, and the e-commerce industry has its fair share. Many people will purposefully avoid shopping online in fear that their identity would be stolen, especially from a small business site. It makes sense, as online fraud is constantly rising, and thanks to extra security on physical cards in the form of EMV chips, it’s much more secure to buy in person. If security is a major concern to your customers, you can create content explaining the security benefits of EMV chips, and that they can help prevent fraud by shopping physically.

Another major benefit to a brick-and-mortar store versus an online store is the ability to touch and see a product physically. It’s very easy to lie or mislead with a product photo, but in a store, you know exactly what you are going to get. If you have multiple, more expensive products for sale, you could encourage online shoppers to come by your store to demo a product. That way, they’ll know what they are getting, and simply that offer to try it out shows you aren’t trying to mislead them.

Determining Your Store’s Strengths

What makes coming to your store a good experience? Are your employees experts on your products/industry? Do you offer classes or training in your store? Take some time and figure out the strengths of your store.

Then, find ways to bring that expertise to your website. Take those expert employees and film tutorials or their advice they would give to customers. By bringing these strengths to your website, it helps connect your two storefronts’ branding and makes your store more valuable.

If you have both a physical store and a e-commerce website, try to utilize the unique benefits of  both and take advantage of them. Use the flexibility that a website gives you in tandem with the stability a physical store brings. Build a subscription service to make life for your returning customers easier. Doing all of this can help bring in new customers and increase your revenue.

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Written by:

Ben Allen is a freelance content creator who believes in helping small businesses succeed in their marketing efforts. In his free time, he also writes about education, parenting, and video games. To read more of his thoughts, follow him on Twitter @allen24ben

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