Online shopping portals have caused upheaval in the economy of world and shopping trends, in the last decade. The monster called, “Internet” has taken over traditional methods of sale & purchase, and Cyberworld is hosting the retail operations. Traditional ways are going outdated with every passing day, which makes the future of brick and mortar retail presumably mind-boggling to predict. Gigantic e-commerce brands like Amazon and Alibaba are giving tough time to offline retailers.
The winds of online shopping are not limited to highly developed countries. You can find it in many underdeveloped countries, too. Now you can enjoy online shopping in Pakistan, too.
Looking at the tides, it makes sense for traditional retailers to feel threatened by the rising fame of online shopping. The atmosphere is going unpredictable, and they are not sure if they can retain their consumers in exponentially expanding digital surroundings. They have to compete with online retailers by hook or crook. For them, it is the deliberate question of life and death.
Yes, circumstances are uncertain, and more than 60% of the customers are using e-commerce stores. But do not think that shopping online behavior is the death of traditional retailers. Only if you know the importance of the right staff and a couple of good marketing strategies, you can still survive. In this post, we are going to talk about various strategies that traditional retailers can adapt to compete with online merchants. We will talk about a bundle of sales, pricing and product strategies you can adapt to cajole the public into buying your products and build a valuable customer base, which you can rely on.
Before that, why not discuss buying methods to clearly elaborate on the difference between buying behaviors of online and offline buyers. To be precise, online marketing has changed buying behaviors. The traditional methods go like this.
Brand advertisements or words of mouth influence or basically approach the buyer. He feels motivated to visit the store. There he is given more information via sales assistants and other staff. Finally, the buyer makes his mind in the light of input provided by the sources we have mentioned earlier. This is known as a linear method of buying.
But the screen generation has some different perspectives when it comes to buying, otherwise, they would not have been called screen generation. They are normally individuals born after 1980. Most of them grew up using smart devices. They are addicted to social networking sites. They find representing themselves on social media, easier than the real world. Social Media is a powerful weapon and this generation is heavily equipped with this weapon.
So, this is the description of their buying behavior, which seems to be totally non-linear. It is their proclivity to screens, which led to a new era of marketing and business. On social media, they check out the product used by any of their friends and start researching about it.
Thanks to the tremendous ocean of knowledge on the internet, they find their desired product very soon. After that comes the stage of reading reviews of that specific product. People who have used product earlier leaves reviews, which turn out to be very helpful for those who still have to make up mind. Then buyer visits price comparison sites and discovers that the product is available on Amazon or any other good online shopping website, and places the order. Money is deducted from credit card and the buyer receives the product after a couple of days.
This process of non-linear buying is becoming a headache for many traditional retailers. Now we will list some tips for online retailers to sustain their business in a competitive online world.
1. Minimize Waiting Time
They say, wait is tantamount to death. Nearly all online consumers have to go through the agony of waiting. They have to wait for at least a couple of days. The only way to avoid is to pay a handsome amount for overnight shipping. It is extremely arduous. However, being a traditional retailer or store owner, you can eliminate this rigorous factor. This is one of the best competitive edges you can ever have, against online retailers.
Therefore, it would be wise to highlight your ability to deliver instantly and use the waiting threshold of online shopping as your advantage. Reiterate this point frequently while communicating with customers. Remind them that they can walk out of the store, having items in their hand rather than enduring the pain of wait.
The best policy is to put yourself in front of local customers and sell speed and convenience. You are in their neighborhood and Amazon may take two full days to reach your locality. Ensure that local people know about you. You can use the catchy phrase of same-day delivery and implement it in real-time. It will take you to the top of sales.
2. Build Good Connection With Your Landlord
Might be your store is in a mall or shopping center and you do not have your personal place to practice your enterprise.
Strive to build good business relation with your landlord. In some cultures, they call the property owner as “Proprietor”. As your paths may differ, but in the end, your goals are the same. It should not be difficult to guess. Yes, it is more and more foot traffic. You both are looking forward to traffic. So why not work together to bring more customers to your location. After all, both parties will grow if the customer list expands.
Advice is the same for Landlords or mall owners. Communicate with all of your stores efficiently and try to understand each retailer’s strategy and goals. Collaborate with all of them to come up with tactics that drive more and more customers.
One very good and practical example of what we have said above is Paseo Colorado, California. It is doing an amazing job in working with its stores. They make sure to cooperate with all of their stores and drive more traffic to them. Every month they put the spotlight on any one of the stores and promote the shop. They use signage, special offers, events etc.
3. Showcase The Best Possible In-Store Services
After waiting advantage, this is the next big advantage you have over online marketers. Introduce unmatchable in-store services. You may offer product curation and styling services. Customers love these gestures and little smacks and become your fans. These things would also help compensate for any shortcomings of products if any. No doubt, customer service is the most critical parameter to measure the value of any business.
So always, provide unbeatable customer service. Customers will always cherish the good experience they get at the store. Help them define their personal style and find them the product which is the best suitable for their needs and does not disturb their budget as well. Now it is your assignment to come upon many such customer service ideas, which Amazon and Alibaba are incapable of implementing.
One of a good example, which is implemented by a lot of stores, is to measure your child’s foot. As it is something, they need to do on regular basis to ensure proper fit. You can find thousands of good examples on the internet.
4. Be Flexible In Payments
The consequences of this idea can go far beyond imagination. Nothing assures customer loyalty as much as flexible payment does. This tactic would eradicate the idea of online shopping from your customer’s mind. If he knows that your store will be flexible with payments, he will barely even think of going anywhere else. Money matter a lot. Some customers even do not feel any hesitation in compromising the product quality, when they are told about flexible payments.
If your policies go against flexible payments, you can still make room for this idea to implement by practicing different payment methods. The customer’s psychology is to pick up various options. Buyers go for the platform that offers a plethora of options. So provide different payment methods.
You can think about partial payments or split payments. These things will be a lot helpful in setting you apart from your competitors. It is not easy to implement for E-retailers, so make sure to take advantage of and cover the market gap left by them.
5. Go Online
Yeah, it may sound counter-intuitive but this is fact. Denying reality makes no sense. Yes, all of the things we have just talked would help you but still, it would be better to go online as soon as possible. No doubt, there are thousands of opportunities out there to help you but not going online would make you miss many other opportunities as well. You will miss a huge group of customers who always make up their mind by searching relevant information on the web. Buying behaviors are changing and it is better to accept this fact as soon as possible.
So do build your online presence. Also, make sure it is visible on social media. Promote your content on different channels. Best is to make a blog and share articles on it which are related to your products.
Good news is that creating online stores is not a big deal. Now, it is easier than ever. Many cloud-based solutions provide templates, drag and drop interfaces and other necessary tools in easily affordable price.
Bottom Line: First four tips are 100% practical and I hope you get good results. However, in the end I would like to emphasize the importance of last tip. Every traditional retailer needs to realize this fact. Different tactics may help you out in sustaining your business as traditional retailer, but chances are high that none of them will turn out to be helpful in longer run. In the end, you just have to accept the ground realities. The ground reality is that buying behaviors are going through dramatic transitions, and those who will not cope with trends would have to suffer a lot. As the science says, the species who do not change their bodies according to their environment, extinct very soon.