The retail landscape has been in a continuous state of flux for well over 20 years. From the threat of large chain stores to recent advances in mobile technology and the rise of eCommerce sites, retailers have had to adapt in response to a variety of trends and innovations in order to attract consumer attention.
Take a look at consumer behaviour today. 90% of shoppers research product information online before buying, while 80% check prices online before visiting a brick-and-mortar store. As for smartphone users, 82% research items on their phones before making an in-store purchase and 60% take the time to research products on their phones while standing in a store.
The statistics don’t lie. In today’s world, having an online presence is an absolute must should retailers want to remain relevant and competitive. If you own a brick-and-mortar business and are unsure about whether to jump online, here are 7 reasons why you should.
1. Cost-effective expansion
Unlike traditional brick-and-mortar expansion, launching an online store is much more budget friendly. Forget about additional rent, employee salaries or renovations; expanding into the digital world of commerce requires minimal overhead costs.
As for building your website? No need to hire programmers to do the job. The right eCommerce platform should provide you with all the services and tools you need to build your website at an affordable price, no matter how much expertise you have.
2. Increased brand awareness
Just because you run a small- or medium-sized business doesn’t mean you can’t acquire a large customer base. Taking your retail business online not only allows you to break down the borders that lie between your business and international shoppers, it can help direct locals to both your online or brick-and-mortar store.
The implementation of a solid search engine optimisation strategy is key to getting your eCommerce website to the top of search engine results pages, and onto shoppers’ radars. By choosing an eCommerce solution that offers SEO optimization capabilities, you can dramatically boost awareness, your site’s searchability, as well as in-store and online sales.
3. Increased customer reach
By supplementing your brick-and-mortar store with an eCommerce website, you open your business up to the world. No longer restricted to a single, physical location or sales channel, you gain the ability to meet new and existing customers anywhere they happen to be, whether in your store, on their mobiles, desktops or laptops.
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4. Round-the-clock sales
In the last 20 years, the retail industry has transformed into a 24/7 business. Relying solely on a brick-and-mortar store means you are missing out on the chance to make sales while you sleep. With an eCommerce site, you free yourself from the constraints of standard operating hours and, the best part is, you don’t need to be present at all times or hire extra staff. With the right eCommerce platform and a solid content and sales strategy in place, your products can pretty much sell themselves.
5. Added brand value
Are you familiar with the expression “content is king”? By adding detailed, SEO-friendly product descriptions, customer reviews, an ongoing blog and other helpful, entertaining content such as videos, not only do you establish brand authority, you build trust. The more consumers trust you, the more likely they are to purchase from you and become loyal customers.
6. Increased customer engagement
It should come as no surprise that an online presence creates additional consumer touch points for your business. The more of these touch points you create, the easier it is to engage with your customer base and keep them coming back to your store or website in the future.
POS and eCommerce solutions that allow you to capture and share customer data like contact information, birthdays and brand preferences across selling platforms allow you to tailor your messaging to the variety of shopper segments that come into contact with your brand. With this customer data at your disposal, you can make better use of eCommerce features such as social media integrations, Live Chat, product suggestions and automated email campaigns to further engage customers with relevant content that is likely to elicit conversions.
7. Increased customer satisfaction
At the end of the day, shoppers want options. Offering customers choice when it comes to when and where they interact with your products and how they walk away with them is key should you want to boost customer satisfaction and command strong brand loyalty.
By making products and services available in person and online while maintaining a consistent brand identity, and by providing options when it comes to payments, shipping and pick-up, consumers are able to shop with you on their own terms. Who wouldn’t want that?
Is the brick-and-mortar shopping experience becoming obsolete? Absolutely not. Consumers still need to be able to examine, touch and try products out in person. However, they’ve also come to expect total and utter flexibility on the part of today’s retailers, who must meet them in whatever channel or medium they’re in, while delivering a consistent, omnichannel experience.
In order to meet consumer demands, retailers must merge their in-store and online business into one centralised operation. An omnichannel approach allows retailers to manage all aspects of their business from a single platform, in order to get a comprehensive view of their inventory, sales and customer data across physical and digital channels.
Are you ready to meet the demands of the modern-day consumer? Take your business online with the help of Lightspeed’s omnichannel solution, give your customers the experience they’ve come to expect and watch your profits grow. Request a free 14 day omnichannel trial today!