Brick and Mortar Stores Aren’t Dead, But They Have to Earn Their Customers’ Business

Retailers can’t just open a brick and mortar store and expect it to succeed. You’ll have to give your customers more than they receive online; here’s how.

Brick and mortar locations have long sustained the retail industry, but with online giants like Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and Zappos taking a larger share of the market every year, it’s perfectly normal to wonder if this trend is coming to an end.

The truth is that there remains room for brick and mortar retail locations, but simply setting up a store and expecting people to shop there is no longer good enough. Retailers have to implement a plan that will attract customers, as there is more competition for their loyalty than ever before.

Major chains will continue to thrive because customers know what they can expect every time they walk through the doors, but what about the little guys?

Stores that don’t put effort into creating a desirable shopping experience are sure to fail, but if you’re able to give the people a good reason to shop with you, your company could become part of the next wave of successful brick and mortar retailers.

These are some steps you can take to compete with the ecommerce industry.

Using technology to your advantage

Technology is everywhere, but how do you use it to your advantage when you run a brick and mortar location? It all comes down to the retail system you’ve implemented. If you’re not sure if you have the right systems in place, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have mobile payment options like Apple Pay?
  • Can your associates check customers out without access to a register?
  • Are your customers able to book appointments with your employees online?
  • Will you ship in-store purchases to customers’ homes?
  • Is there a loyalty app?

All these things matter to customers, and when margins are incredibly tight, the more you can offer to get them through your doors, the better your business will perform.

By using technology to automate and simplify many aspects of your company, you can create a better shopping experience for your customers.

Always be available

One distinct advantage that online retailers have over brick and mortar locations is that they’re always open. It doesn’t make sense for brick and mortar stores to stay open all night because very few people are going to venture out to shop in the middle of the night, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be available.

You might consider selling your products online, by setting up an ecommerce site. Going with this option will open an additional revenue stream and allow you to stay competitive.

Using chatbots to provide customer service after your store closes for the evening is an excellent way to keep customers engaged with your brand. That way, when potential customers visit your website at night, they’ll have the same dynamic experience that they’d receive through an online retailer.

Offer competitive prices

Keeping your prices lower than your online counterparts might seem close to impossible. After all, they don’t have as much overhead and don’t have to pay the rent on a large building, leaving you in a tough situation.

You can stay competitive by first asking your vendors to reduce costs of goods. They might be receptive if you start moving more product every month. You can then pass the savings on to your customers.

A price-match policy can also work because you can offer something that online retailers cannot: no shipping. If you’re able to match the prices of an online competitor, you’re sure to attract more sales.

Offering loyalty discounts is a great way to provide competitive prices to customers who are already supporting you. Giving customized discounts based on what individual customers purchase is a great way to get shoppers into your store. You can offer these discounts by asking customers for their email addresses as they’re making their purchase. From there, you can send them custom coupon codes based on what they’re likely to buy.

Make your customers feel important, and they’ll return.

Focus on customer service

No matter how well an online retailer does, for many, nothing beats face-to-face interaction and the ability to handle a product physically before buying it.

We’ve all bought something on Amazon only to realize that it’s about half the size that we thought it was, or the quality is incredibly poor.

Slow customer service is also prevalent with online retailers because it takes hours to file a complaint and receive an adequate response when it would take seconds to handle in person.

Customer service provides an opportunity for brick and mortar stores that online retailers cannot match, but you must be committed to providing the best shopping experience possible. Even one negative experience in your store can ruin your store for a customer, so you have to work hard to keep every one of them.

If you don’t have an item in stock, order it. If you sold a defective item, replace it. Do everything that you can to keep each customer happy because a happy shopper is far more likely to return.

Come up with a plan

As a brick and mortar store, you must realize that being mediocre isn’t good enough; you’ll have to come up with a method of setting yourself apart from your competitors. Steps that you can take include coming up with a new retail strategy, selecting the right retail system, implementing this technology, and optimizing it to work with your business.

Sophelle assists retailers by coming up with innovative solutions to their problems and helping them to integrate new technology to optimize the customer experience. Contact us if you have any questions about how we can help you create a retail strategy for your brick and mortar location.