If you own a physical retail space as well as a website where you sell similar wares, it’s important to realize that today’s savvy customers want a unified shopping experience. Take the time to integrate their in-store and internet shopping experiences, and you will see a positive increase in your profits as well as your brand identity.
Keep Accurate Records of Available Inventory
One of the glowing advantages of online shopping is its convenience. Customers can scope out your product selection and compare what you are charging with the prices at other sites. While many also prefer to order via the internet and have products delivered to their door, there is also a significant portion of customers who want to see and touch items before they shell out any money. These buyers tend to peruse your website to find what they want and then make the trip to your physical store to interact with you and the product in person. The last thing you want as a business owner is for that person to have made the drive to your retail space after seeing that the product is in stock only to learn that this is actually not the case.
It's essential that you always have your finger on the pulse of your inventory in order to be proactive and order items before they are gone. Fortunately, many of today’s point of sale payment processing systems have inventory management capabilities that can do most of that work for you – even consolidating the tracking of sales from both online and in-store transactions so your data if fully accurate without the need for additional calculations. If you have not upgraded in recent years and are only using your system to take payments, it’s time to avail yourself of the many capabilities of modern POS solutions.
Turn Associates into Ambassadors
In the past, your associates’ main jobs included being cashiers and helping customers find specific items in your physical store. Thanks to amped-up inventory management capabilities and mobile technology, you can transform salespeople into product experts and brand ambassadors. Think about the main complaints that customers have when it comes to shopping in physical stores: long waits in line, inability to find products and difficulty getting good information about items. Supercharge your staff by equipping them with mobile devices that can access your product line and inventory, and you can effectively give your customers the best of both the cyber and the physical worlds: accurate information, fast service and comprehensive data about all of the products you carry as well as their availability in real time.
Set Yourself Up for Live Chat
Just as the in-store experience can have its downsides, the same is true when it comes to your customers’ internet shopping. People can be wary of online payment processing for security reasons. In addition, it can be frustrating to try to get answers to questions about a product or to address problems with an order over the internet. Many companies simply provide a support email address and leave it at that, but this can prove to be slow, inefficient and extremely frustrating to people who want answers right now. That’s where online chat can fill the void. This feature enables customers to ask questions in real time to agents who have the ability to access account and inventory information and provide virtually instantaneous solutions to questions or problems.
Make Your Promotions Multichannel
Some of your customers will begin their shopping experience at your e-commerce site while others will walk into your brick-and-mortar location, view some products, go home and make their purchase at a later date. For that reason, you need to align your promotions so that they seamlessly integrate across all of your retail channels. If, for instance, you offer a 20 percent discount on a product online, people should also be able to redeem it in-store. If you have a sale running at your retail location, it should carry over to your e-commerce site as well. Making it as easy as possible to get the products that customers want into their hands should be your ultimate goal. You can use social media to advertise and promote your brand as well as all of your promotions and sales.
Create a Native App
One of the best ways to bridge the gap between online and in-store sales is by developing an app for your business. Considering that the vast majority of people carry their mobile devices everywhere with them, you’re missing out on a huge marketing opportunity if you don’t draw people in with a mobile app. Once you have it, customers can take advantage of personalized features such as loyalty benefits, communicate with social media to talk about your brand and have the opportunity to shop conveniently even on a small mobile screen.
Use Online Analytics to Learn about Your Customers
As an e-commerce business owner, one of the most powerful capabilities of your online store is its back office. It allows you to gather and examine statistics on all of the visitors to your site. Take advantage of it to learn facts about your patrons including age, location and buying history. With this tool in your hands, you can use your system to send specific offers and promotions that meld with customers’ past buying histories and demographics.
Today’s e-commerce world is moving at a breakneck pace. Don’t fall behind, or you could find yourself lost in the shuffle without the customers you need. By integrating all of your channels, you can create the seamless shopping experience that buyers are coming to expect and demand.