Marketing Strategy

Let's Get Physical (and Digital): Combining In-Store Experience and Online Experiences

March 13, 2017

Manny Ju

Manny Ju

Every business needs a digital front. But sometimes, we can forget about the importance of the actual physical brick-and-mortar shop in our strategy.

 

In fact, your customer will most likely want to hold visit your traditional brick and mortar location to hold products in their hand, and speak to someone who works for you that can answer their questions. This can give you near endless ways to learn more about your customers, personalize your marketing campaigns and bridge the gap between your physical store and your digitial store.

 


 

KEEP BUILDING YOUR ONLINE EXPERIENCE

Make the online experience as close as possible to visiting one of your stores - you know what it’s like going into your store, what colours you use and how you and your representatives talk to customers who walk in.

Take note of how customers handle your products in-store and try to repeat that experience online, maybe by using video (for example, showing how someone can use your product in a few different ways) or by using detailed photography to capture the texture of your products.

Having an online store is an opportunity to update and refresh your online presence in a few areas, particularly when it comes to the questions your team is asked or the conversations you have with your customers.

These kinds of updates can also tie in with your social media posts, depending on the platform you’re using (creating a new post showing products being shelved on Instagram).

For example, if you just stocked a new product and customers who walk in ask the same few questions about it, take that opportunity to add those questions to your FAQs and create a blog post about the new product.

Link the product page to the post or add the questions to the product page to give your online visitors more information they may also want to know.

Another area where you can connect your online and in-store experiences in real time is by using an online chat platform. While in store, you or one of your employees can manage an online chat where customers can ask questions about your products or services before they decide to come in for a visit.

How would this work? Let’s say your that bag retailer from the last example and your physical store is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. You could include a button on your site that says ‘Chat with one of our in-store reps’ during those times. This way if a customer wants to know if a product is available in the store, they can open a chat and find out right away.

 

NEXT LEVEL PRODUCT UPDATES

Let's skip the basics: your customers are probably already receiving emails updates on the items on their wishlist. You're probably leveraging an algorithm (like Maropost's Da Vinci!) that can make product recommendations based on viewing and purchasing habits.

There are a few ways to tell if a customer is ready to move to the ‘promoter’ or ‘advocate’ stage of their interactions with you. How often they open their wish list and product updates emails, their purchase and browsing history, and number of in-store visits.

These customers are the ones who will be able to tell if you’ve made changes to your products and what changes you’ve made. So instead of sending them simple updates when your products are in stock or are running low, tell them about their favourite products and any changes you’ve made that they will notice.

This doesn’t have to just be via emails. Provide more product detail directly on your site, particularly if your products are more likely to be purchased multiple times.

Let’s say you’re a bag retailer and one of your more popular items has gone through a significant design change. The old version of your bag had inner pockets for a laptop, chargers and a couple mobile devices.

Someone in your company had the idea to change the design of your bag to get rid of the inside pocket and instead sell separate inserts that customers could use as bags themselves or buy as a set with your current bag.

Use your product pages to give a brief history or look at the development of your most loved products. This way, even if customers aren’t engaged with you online or in stores, they know what to expect if they make that purchase again.

 

CUSTOMIZE HOW YOU CLICK AND CONNECT

In Toronto, where Maropost is headquartered, we have a grocery store that you can drive to and pick up your groceries. Shoppers pick what they want, pay online and drive to the store when their order is ready. In the parking lot the store has a designated ‘Click and Collect’ section where the customer can wait in their car for an employee to drop off their purchase.

Click and Connect is everywhere and is an opportunity to give your customers discounts on other products, get their feedback on the experience, bring them in as part of your physical community or offer a free gift.

For example, if a customer checks in to one of your retail stores, give them a promotion on the spot to another retailer that’s in your area or in the same mall as the store they visited.

If your company is a food retailer or you sell products that aren’t easy to carry around, consider partnering with a local taxi service or Uber to offer your customers discounted rides. Combine this with a ‘tell-a-friend’ promotion, and offer the first ride free for referrals.

This is also an opportunity to make your click-and-collect opportunities more user-friendly, depending on what you sell and how customers interact with your products.

Return or ‘I changed my mind’ policies take on a a whole new perspective -- if a customer arrives in store to pick up a product and it’s defective in any way or they change their mind in store, you could offer a no-hassle refund if the customer says something within 24 hours.

Taking this to in-store mobile marketing, once you know the customer has been in your store to pick up their item you could immediately send them an email to thank them for shopping with you and offer a discount on another product or service. Or you can have a sales representative send the customer your promotion directly, while they’re waiting to get their product or service.

 


 If you have a loyalty program (or are planning to create one), encourage your customers to ‘check-in’ at your store for points or your program benefits. This can help you update your customer data to show how often a customer visits your store, and in turn help you create customized marketing campaigns to share more with that customer.

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