Word of mouth will always be valuable to your business, however, in today’s digital world, it’s not enough. The pandemic has accelerated inevitable changes in consumer shopping habits and your business must adapt quickly to remain competitive, relevant and profitable. Here’s why your business needs an online store sooner rather than later:
To appeal to knowledgeable customers – The shopping experience is no longer only about walking into a physical store/location. Today’s consumers have more information at their fingertips and tend to conduct research online before making a purchase. Even though you have a physical location, you should be able to connect that location to the digital world and display your products online with effective product descriptions, answer frequently asked questions, and accept online payments. Furthermore, testimonials have become more important than ever and with your online store, you can encourage customers to leave reviews of specific products on the site. Positive reviews can then lead to increased revenue.
To personalize the customer experience – One of the reasons why Netflix has been so successful is because they have managed to combine technology with personalization. Think about the last time you went on to Netflix, chances are you looked at a movie/show they recommended based on something that you previously viewed. The same thing applies to your establishment. You can personalize your online store’s content based on your customers shopping preferences as well as upsell and cross sell e.g. show different products, special promotions based on previous purchases. By just being online, you can gather significant customer data which can be used for marketing purposes.
To promote your offline store and have multiple sales channels – You can acquire customers from all possible channels, in various locations with a multichannel presence. Gradually, you will be able to direct traffic from your online space to your physical store. Bear in mind that your products/services may cater to different generations; whilst some customers prefer the ease and convenience of the entire online shopping experience, there are others who would browse online first and then visit the store to make a purchase. Consider the marketing funnel mentioned in last week’s column, before a customer decides to buy, they go through several stages, including becoming aware and considering the various options available.
Acquire new customers – Your business location and by extension its visibility, is a huge contributor to its success especially in retail, or even as a distributor. With your online store, you will be less affected by the limitation of not being in a central location. Through digital marketing, your brand can acquire a good rank on search engines which would lead to your intended customers finding you easily online.
Lower operational costs – Rent and utilities are some of the biggest expenses incurred by businesses. With an online store, you don’t necessarily have to invest in a ‘store front’ or pay staff all day long. Instead, you can spend that money on setting up the online store and employing marketing tactics to drive traffic to said store. It’s much easier to start small online with just a few products, and scale over time by adding more items.
Candice Sealey is the Founder & Principal Consultant at Ignite! a Full-service Marketing & PR Consultancy that helps businesses/brands to stand out, engage and connect with the right people through Strategy, Marketing, Media services and Design solutions.
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