As the holiday season will be here in the blink of an eye, we thought that those of you who run physical retail stores might be enthused by the knowledge that a whopping 61% of shoppers would rather shop with brands that have a physical location than ones that are online only.*

Ordering from the internet can be wonderfully convenient but the experience of shopping in your favourite store is still a huge hit with consumers.  But some retailers aren’t taking advantage of this and, quite frankly, driving customers away to online shopping.  Just at a time when demand for local information continues to surge, it seems to us that it would be crazy for a retailer not to take advantage of the #shoplocal trend.  Statistics have shown that mobile searches for “can I/to buy” and “near me” have grown over 6X in the last two years.

women shopping online to find stores near me

People are searching for ‘where can I buy stamps near me” and “where to buy vinyl records near me” – what are customers in your local area searching for?

Online Can’t Match In-Store Experience

There’s only so much that a website or online store can do to offer an experience to customers.  Real stores have a wide selection of experiences that they can offer that simply can’t be matched by anything online.  Everything from the friendly way you greet your customers, the smell of freshly ground coffee or baked bread, the fresh flowers near the till, the mood inspiring music, the helpful staff that will help you find the right size, the conversations you strike up whilst serving your customers, even helping to carry shopping bags to the car.

To prove this point, take a look at The Home Depot.  This brand wants to offer better assistance to its in-store shoppers with its mobile site and app.  They’ve invested in a ‘wayfinding’ navigation system so that you can easily locate items in a specific aisle in their stores. They’re also one of the many brands providing self-service lockers that allow customers to collect their orders without having to wait in the check-out queue.

Touchy-Feely opportunities

When we’re out shopping, part of the experience is being able to use our senses to discover what a product is really like.  Instead of wondering if the perfectly lit website photo will look the same in real life, we can see straight away in-store and experience the quality, colour, what it’s made from as well as getting a realistic expectation of size.

Have you ever ordered something on the internet and been unpleasantly surprised by what you’ve actually ordered?

If you’re planning on getting really creative, then just take a leaf out of extreme weather clothing brand, Canada Goose‘s, book.  They’re creating “can’t find this anywhere else” experiences for their shoppers by launching Cold Rooms in their Hong Kong, New Jersey, Boston and Montreal stores.  Their Cold Rooms offer customers the chance to try on their down jackets and parkas at temperatures as low as -10.56℃ (-13℉).  With adjustable Wind Chill switches and an adjustable thermometer, you’ll never have to wonder whether one of their winter coats will actually keep you warm in winter weather.  You can’t get that experience online can you?!

What are you doing to help your customers find you?

  1. Have you set up your business with a free business profile on Google My Business?  Make it nice and easy for people who are searching for businesses like yours by showing them where you are on Google Search and Maps.  It’s simple to set up and you can update it regularly with new products, photos and store hours.
  2. Do you make it easy for customers to find what they’re looking for in your shop?  Have you tested out your store layout to see how it could work better?
  3. Be honest, how good are your staff with being friendly, approachable, helpful and engaging?  Do they ask ‘open’ or ‘closed’ questions when speaking to customers?  Looking after your customers means taking a real interest in why they came into your store and whether they will leave happy and pleased to have found you.
  4. Try asking some of these questions and make a note of the type of responses you get:
    – “What brought you into our store today?”
    – “Which products have caught your eye?”
    – “Why did you decide to buy this item today?”
    – “Who are you shopping for today?”
    – “When do you need this product by?”

Keep revising the questions and conversations that you have with your customers.  There’s so much to learn!

If your local retail area is suffering, it’s time to band together with other stores and business owners. Work together with other brands nearby to see how you can build a complete shopping experience in your area.  Could you offer customers a discount at the coffee shop next door when they make a purchase with you, and vice versa?  Can shoppers get a discount on with a local hand car wash when they shop with you?  Can your pet shop offer help with a local dog grooming or pet boarding service for the holidays?  Do you have a local cooperative that promotes the entire high street on one Facebook Business Page?

If you’d like to explore these ideas to regenerate your local retail and get help marketing your retail store and business website, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team at Aitkens Media

• Source: Google

Sign up to our FREE Newsletter