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Many physical retailers continue to resist e-commerce. These companies are reluctant to venture online, fearing that they will dilute their existing business model or confuse customers, but ignore growing evidence that physical stores with no online business are at serious risk of going bankrupt.
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The Internet continues to develop as an effective means of advertising and marketing, and retailers who want to survive are using it. While only 60% of retailers used social media strategies in 2013, that number is now estimated to be well over 70%. If you aren’t using social media or other online marketing approaches, you are in the minority.
The key to being a successful retailer in the years to come will be your ability to connect with the new generation of millennials and even the youngest who now hold enormous purchasing power in today’s economy. . And, quite frankly, if you aren’t using online marketing tactics, you’re missing out on this very important demographic. Already, 72% of millennials search for an establishment online before entering to shop.
You can take advantage of online marketing to maximize offline sales. Here are some helpful strategies and tangible takeaways.
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1. Build an online community.
One of the best strategies is to build an online community around a topic or niche related to your commodity offering. If you’ve been primarily a physical retailer and now venture more into the online world, I still recommend some sort of content marketing as there are a lot of people consuming content now.
Your end goal should be to regularly produce material that showcases your expertise in the type of business you run. For example, think of a large company that offers tax preparation services. He runs a blog that features stories about the new tax rules or advice on tax exemptions. Maybe this company is hosting a networking event with speakers who can answer questions about taxes.
You can do all of this even if you are new to e-commerce. By creating an active community, you simultaneously create owned media which can then be used to promote your retail experience. The idea is to make sure that people know that they can not only look to you to find a certain type of product, but also trust you to generate an opinion on that topic so that they can understand it better. .
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2. Use Google AdWords (and other paid advertising).
In order to reach today’s customer, you have to think like them. If you were a potential customer who didn’t know your business existed, how would you find out? Sure, you can drive by and see it, but Millennials are more likely to google something.
If you want to reach these searchers – who could potentially be a group of thousands of people in your immediate geographic area – then you need to invest in paid advertising. Google AdWords will probably give you what you pay for.
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3. Connect the dots to the email.
If you don’t ask customers to sign up for some sort of rewards program, you’re missing out on the opportunity to build a valuable contact list. You should collect email addresses at checkout.
When you collect emails, you can then create a mailing list which can be used to announce deals, share news, and promote special in-store deals. When users have access to such offers, they may be less likely to purchase a certain product online and more likely to wait to visit your store.
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4. Make web design a priority.
Finally, the design of your website is a direct reflection of your business. Specifically, you need to pay attention to the design of mobile websites. While you might not think of web design as a component of internet marketing, it sure is. Just consider that 57% of users won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile website.
The people who build mobile sites these days are making a science of it. Everything from loading times to placing certain items on your smartphone screen strongly influences whether or not someone makes a purchase. Do your homework, hire someone with experience in this area, and put together something solid that will help you make the transition to the online world.
Ultimately, the road to success is clear. If brick-and-mortar stores are to survive the ongoing transition to an ecommerce-based economy, they must invest in ways to optimize their online experience. Almost as important as the number of customers that connect to your product is how your site looks and how you communicate with the communities you create. If you tap into the online world properly, you will keep the customers that Amazon is all too eager to delight you.