Brick-and-mortar businesses face a fundamental change to the way they must operate. Why? Because the world has gone digital, and businesses today are being driven by the likes of Amazon and ever-evolving customer shopping behaviors. This has put a massive strain on brick-and-mortar businesses who need to adapt to survive.
Here are several tips that brick-and-mortar businesses can implement to achieve success in the digital age.
Embrace Multichannel and Omnichannel
To provide your customers with a seamless shopping experience, you need to think about going multichannel and omnichannel. This means it doesn’t matter whether your customers are shopping online from their mobile phone or desktop, in a physical store, or over the telephone—the experience must be consistent.
The idea is businesses must be able to interact seamlessly with their customers across the range of channels available, including email, mobile, telephone, social channels, and more. The best already are.
Mobile is a key part of the mix due to the significant increase in mobile shopping. Mobile devices are expected to reach 79% of global internet use by the end of 2018. Today’s shoppers are likely to visit a physical store and then make a purchase online via their mobile device, which is one of the reasons why the experience needs to be seamless across the board. This isn’t just something on the horizon, it’s already what leading digital businesses are doing.
Given the modern day demands of consumers, if you’re not operating on multiple channels, you are going to struggle to grow. It’s time to up your game on all channels and beat the competition. If you have no idea where to start, two quick and easy wins are social media and email.
Focus on the channels where your customers are. Facebook is the biggest, but if not many of your customers use Facebook, then try another. LinkedIn is particularly good for a business audience and Instagram is excellent for sharing images.
Don’t forget to mix up your content on social channels. The best brands use video and powerful visual graphics to connect with their audience. Pick your channel and post regularly and consistently, and don’t forget to answer questions and address comments.
Using email should be your “bread and butter” in the digital age. You should start collecting an email list so you can keep in touch with your customers and (at a minimum) send them a newsletter with the latest offers and news once a month.
Implement a POS System
Bring the power of technology to your store with a point of sale (POS) system. It might sound daunting but, in fact, it’s really easy to implement and can instantly up your game. POS card readers, like Shopify’s, eliminate customer waiting times both in-store and online. These systems can be used on the go to sell anywhere, connecting your physical store and online sales in one place. It doesn’t matter if you are selling at a marketplace, a pop-up, street sales, or in-store.
This digital capability not only looks smart and professional, but it helps keep your customers happy as you can quickly take card payments wherever. Additionally, it bridges the gap between offline and online sales and stock. It’s all managed through a mobile device, meaning an increase in efficiency and a reduction in boring admin.
Using a POS reader means you are able to take contactless payment from all major cards at the speed of light, and sales, order updates, and stock levels are easier to track.
Regardless of the type of business you are running, selling online is an effective way to add another revenue stream. To get started, you need to have an easy-to-use and operational website and social media page, all linked up with a nice-looking online store. If you don’t have anything suitable to sell online, make something!
If you simply can’t sell your product online, all is not lost. Even if your website is purely used for providing information, you can still offer something like an ebook download that could help advise potential customers, or an attractive offer to get prospect information in exchange. It’s all about providing something for information or sales in return.
If you sell clothing, sell clothing online. If you sell accessories, sell them online. The future is online so that’s where you need to be too.
Focus on Delivering an Exceptional Customer Experience
Customers are king to growth, and while the digital age represents a great opportunity, it also represents a risk. That’s because it’s now really easy for unhappy customers to make their opinions known to the masses. Businesses looking to enhance their digital presence need to keep this in mind and ensure the customer is always at the heart of their activities.
Web Design and Seamless Integration
Exceptional customers experiences include all of the above, and it’s this that will help set you apart from the competition and drive digital success. Everything you do should be made as easy and simple for the customer as possible. Making a purchase or engaging with your content should be able to happen with minimal effort required. Friction at any point leads to a negative experience and loss of business.
Focus on seamlessly integrating your communications channels, make the digital shopping experience quick and easy, ensure your online design is clear and concise and don’t lead your customers on a wild goose chase to actually make a purchase.
If you can create personalized experiences where customers are fully engaged from the first touch point to the last, you’ll be creating long-lasting brand advocates. For example, personalize your emails to each customer, add chat bot capabilities to your website to have meaningful conversations with visitors in real time, or include online recommendations on your website so customers get a better understanding of your products.
Today’s customers demand personalization, where each individual is treated like a real human, rather than just a number.
Failing to embrace the digital age could be the difference today between surviving and thriving or dinosaur extinction. As digital tools and platforms become more ingrained in our lives and business operations, the emphasis to add digital capabilities is only going to increase. Join the revolution and embark on your journey to success in the digital era.