Local retailers must tell their story online to survive and thrive in the click to brick economy.
That's the most important takeaway from Nationwide PrimeTime, a twice-yearly gathering of appliances, mattress, and furniture store owners and their top brands.
The store owners I spoke with at the show agreed that store foot traffic is down when compared to previous years, but their close rates are up. This phenomenon is easily explained.
Today's shoppers start their path to purchase on the Internet using search engines and store websites to learn more and choose both a product and a nearby store. In the past, customers would visit 5-6 stores to browse, but today most browsing is done online, and $9 out of every $10 is spent in a local brick and mortar store.
That's why we say we're living in a click to brick economy, and it was everywhere at PrimeTime. Case in point: the event's Learning Academy featured 76 speaking topics, 25 of which were focused on using the Internet to drive sales.
As store owners adapt to this new reality, here's some tips to get started:
1. Don't neglect your website
Whether stores like it or not, technology has invaded retail. You have to have a great website that loads quickly and is easy to navigate, or you’ll quickly lose the attention of potential customers. Don't ignore mobile: More than 60% of clicks on our digital advertisements are now coming from smartphones. Additionally, marketers need to invest in website content and paid search advertising to get customers in the digital and physical door.
2. Highlight what makes you unique
Most retailers think they’re the same as everyone else, but it’s critical that they highlight what makes them unique. There are so many multi-generational local businesses with so much history that can’t compare to big box stores. Shout what makes you unique from every marketing message.
3. Invest in technology
Technology has thoroughly invaded retail. It’s up to marketers to make it work for their businesses. They need to invest in the right tools to be relevant in the digital world and find a partner that keeps them relevant in the fast-paced marketing landscape. Companies at PrimeTime spoke to members about putting a door camera in-stores to measure foot traffic and tie a face to an email, while our team educated members at several sessions about the importance of investing in digital marketing campaigns.
4. Understand the Influence of Web
A key aspect of the event and the industry moving ahead is Web influence. As retailers continue to see their foot traffic going down, but their close rates going up, they must recognize that this is a result of implementing a strong digital door (a great website) that leads local buyers through the physical door of their brick-and-mortar store.
Store owners who invest in a fast, smart-phone-ready website and digital marketing will see healthy growth in 2017 and the years to come.
Get a free copy of our new Click to Brick Marketing Playbook which was used to teach more than 50 members how to get started with digital marketing in their stores.