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Using your online store to drive bricks and mortar sales

Using your online store to drive bricks and mortar sales

Published on 12 Feb, 2020

Research shows that shopping remains one of the most popular leisure activities in the UK. So how does that fit with the well-reported problems of the High Street? This month Beales became the latest retailer to announce some store closures, although others such as JD Sports and Next are forecasting better than expected profits.

It’s easy to assume that the High Street’s problems are due to the growth in online shopping. However researchers tell us that consumers still prefer the experience of shopping in bricks and mortar stores for many of their purchases. For example, online shopping captures only a fraction of spend for fashion: less than 20 per cent in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics, and just 10 per cent in the US, according to the Department of Commerce.

The key to getting your share of these shoppers is to ensure that your online shop and in-store experience work together to give your target customers the best possible experience. The two channels are complementary and meet different needs at different times. Research from Deloitte Digital found that digital interactions influence 60 percent of in-store sales, and that 22 percent of consumers spend more as a result of using digital, while another study found that 91 per cent of consumers have gone into a store based on an online experience. Many people research their potential purchases online but still prefer to see and touch the actual item before buying.

Making this work for your company means having an online store that’s easy to navigate and showcases your products effectively. Ensure that you get the most from each customer visit by using the cross-selling features of your ecommerce software to take them effortlessly from the initial product they’re looking at to other related items. They may have more time to browse when they’re at home and feeling relaxed, so encourage them to stay longer on your site.

You can incentive visits to your physical store with offers on both your website and your social media channels. And of course make sure that the actual location and opening hours of your store are clearly listed so people can find you!

You can also organise special events so that people get more from their visit and are encouraged to stay and browse. As Mary Portas pointed out recently, consumers are drawn to retailers who can offer them an experience beyond the digital shelves. In her view: “they want to be educated, inspired and entertained by the retailer of their choice in exchange for their loyalty.” These don’t need to be expensive, as long as they are relevant to your customers and enhance your brand image.

Meanwhile, don’t forget to signpost people in the other direction. Your physical shop window will no doubt be eye-catching, but make sure passers-by know you’re also online so that they can visit your e-shop if they’re too busy to come in or your shop isn’t open when they pass.

So don’t see physical and online as competing sales channels – use them to work together to draw your customers in and give them the best possible experience. The same principles apply if you sell through marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon, and again your ecommerce software is key to make the most of these opportunities. I’ll talk more about getting the most from multichannel selling in my next blog.

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