- Integrating in-store with online makes the whole process of shopping more convenient and cost-efficient.
- Offline businesses go hand in hand with online businesses especially in case of stores. This trend will continue in 2018.
- Online stores open the doors of new opportunities for both business owners and customers - ongoing sales for owners and 24/7 availability for customers.
According to NAB’s Online Retail Sales Index Report released in September 2017, Australians spent an estimated $23.4 billion on online retail in 12 months. It’s safe to say that in 2018 and beyond, most businesses understand that having an online store in addition to their traditional brick and mortar store, is essential to a profitable bottom line.
So how can you use your online store to continue building a relationship with your existing customers that leads to higher sales and increased profits? Here are a number of tried and tested methods that are at your fingertips.
24/7, 365-day availability
Sure, you’ve built a rock-solid reputation with your loyal customers that pushes them to visit your store again and again. It’s impossible for any brick and mortar store to be open on a 24/7 basis, 365 days of the year and at some point, customers will want to make a purchase when you’re either not open or they’d prefer to do so from the comfort of their own home. An online store that never sleeps makes this easy as it’s an extension of the experience your customers have come to know and love in-store. You can also provide your customers with additional convenience by offering services such as Click and Collect so that they can make their purchases online and then head in-store to pick them up quickly and easily.
Quality relationships with customers are often developed over a period of time. Unfortunately, life happens and people often relocate or even head off overseas for work. With an online store, you remove the barriers that often come with being tied to a specific location as an online store allows you to sell to existing customers anytime and from anywhere. So instead of losing sales simply because a long-time customer can no longer head in-store to make a purchase, an online store allows you to reap the rewards of great customer service well into the long-term, regardless of where a customer is based.
Often, your team in-store will learn the ins and outs and overall preferences of your most loyal customers. A bit like how your local cafe knows that you like your chai latte extra hot and with soy milk. You get to know your regulars well over time and the online space allows your business to take this exceptional customer service and personalisation to a whole new level. Technology equips marketers with a heap of useful data. When used and interpreted effectively, this data provides us with real insights into your customer’s habits and their personal tastes. For example, with a customer whose purchase history contains baby items made by a certain fashion label, you can retarget this customer with clever marketing. How can you reach these people with relevant offers?
- SMS offers,
- Ads while they’re browsing online
Forget sifting through aisles and rummaging through sales racks, this serves up what your customers are likely to be after directly to them. With the help of clever marketing experts, this level of personalisation is a priceless business tool.
Improved customer support
As mentioned, an online store is an extension of your physical store. Your customer’s experience should be seamless meaning that what they see in-store should be replicated online. A key advantage of the online world is that you can prepare a heap of support materials for customers in the form of FAQs, videos and be available on Live Chat during business hours. Existing customers can search your entire catalogue online and place an order for any item that you don’t have in-store. This means you don’t have to keep as much stock in-store but you’re also not losing the sale because your customer knows it’s available upon ordering. Additionally, when your store is closed, people can still get in touch with you to ask any questions they need to instead of having to ring your store during business hours.
Online shops are a win-win for everyone.
An online store that acts as an extension of your physical business is a priceless tool in maximising your business’ bottom line. The real trick to increasing your profits and sales with existing customers is ensuring your in-store and online customer experience is seamless.