Homerun Nievera, Negosentro.com | The business world has absolutely changed. Statistics suggest that 80 percent of people shop online and that more than 50 percent actually prefer the online shopping experience to shopping in physical stores. This is a scary time for brick and mortar retail. The threat posed by e-commerce is real and growing. If traditional retail is to survive in this climate, it must evolve.
Competing as a physical store against e-commerce giants like Amazon can seem like a David versus Goliath scenario. Despite the deck now being stacked against offline retailers, there are still certain strategies you can use to gain advantages over e-commerce companies so you can compete in this digital age. Below are some strategies you should consider for your store.
Focus on Face to Face Customer Service
Human beings need interaction with other humans to feel emotionally healthy. Something that e-commerce certainly lacks is the human connection. Even worse, the customer service provided by these websites often involves discussing problems with foreigners thousands of miles away. This creates a gap that brick and mortar retail can compete in. Focus on providing the best possible face to face customer service in-store. Make sure that customers always leave your store completely satisfied.
Combine Digital with Brick and Mortar
Many brick and mortar retailers have been forced to open online stores to compete in this increasingly digital market. However, you need to be careful not to cannibalize your brick and mortar retail sales. There are strategies you can use to create more synergy between online and off.
E-mail coupons to online store customers that can only be redeemed in your brick and mortar locations. Also offer in-store pick-up for online purchases so you can encourage brick and mortar add-on purchases. 73 percent of online shoppers use in-store pick-up to avoid shipping charges.
Make Your Store into a Social Hotspot
The reason why large indoor malls were once popular wasn’t only because of the shopping they provided to consumers. They also existed as a social destination for people to commune together in public. Where malls don’t exist, very large stores like Walmart serve a similar purpose.
Take this into account in your retail organization. One thing e-commerce can’t provide is this shared in-store social experience. Make your store a place to go and hang-out for people. Consider adding hot food vendors, Wi-Fi hotspots and other features to make your store a fun place to go for the community.
Serve a Specific Niche Audience
It’s pretty much impossible to compete against the wide breadth of products available through large online retailers. Amazon sells almost 400 million different products. That’s a record that will probably only be beaten by Amazon.
However, since Amazon sells so many different products, it is pretty much impossible for them focus on selling each kind of product independently. They simply don’t have enough employees. This can be a space for brick and mortar retail to compete in. For example, there are many very successful stores that target a religious consumer base such as Christian bookstores. One choice for a retail transformation in this digital age is to narrow your focus.
Implement Localized SEO
The digital isn’t the enemy of the brick and mortar retail store. You can actually use it to your advantage. One way is through localized SEO.
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It’s a strategy for getting your website and information related to your business near the top of search results. Localized SEO is a form of SEO that targets people from a specific geographic location. Localized SEO strategies include, for example, getting your retail store listed on Google My Business and Google Maps. This way, people that search for certain products in your geographic area will be alerted of the existence of your store by Google.
With e-commerce continuing to grow by leaps and bounds, it’s a slightly unsettling time for the owners of brick and mortar retail stores. However, if you are creative and strategic enough, there are ways to compete even with the growing dominance of companies like Amazon. Don’t give up. The five strategies above can help you weather the storm.
Homerun Nievera is the publisher of Negosentro.com and WorldExecutivesDigest.com. He has interests in several tech and digital businesses as director and chief strategist.