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Five Things Brick & Mortar Retailers Need to Do

There’s a lot of talk about the retail industry these days. With retail giants like Macy’s, Kohl’s, J.C. Penney, Nordstrom and many others shuttering locations and threatening to close even more, it’s no wonder that the retail industry as a whole is a little on edge.

We hear about “big, bad Amazon” time and time again. Many brick and mortar stores are pointing fingers at the online retailer, claiming that Amazon is stealing their business. When we take a look at the numbers though, we see a very different story. Amazon is only responsible for about 45 percent of all online sales; 85 percent of retail sales still occur in brick and mortar stores.

As a brick and mortar retailer reading this, you’re probably doing two things: 1) breathing a huge sigh of relief, and 2) wondering how on earth you can stay relevant with all the other online shopping experiences out there.

Here are five things brick and mortar stores must do to maintain foot traffic in their locations and keep the sales coming:

1.) Know who you are.

This sounds simple enough, but too many times we see retailers trying to be everything to everyone. If you haven’t evaluated your mission and your brand recently, now is the time to do it. Determine who are you, find your strengths and build on those. From there, build that into your brand messaging and marketing strategies.

Today, more than ever, consumers want a two-way conversation. Instead of shouting offers at them, have an open dialog with shoppers in your brand voice.

2.) Create an experience.

Unless you have an incredibly unique product mix, shoppers can probably find what they’re looking for (or something similar) a lot of other places. Why should they choose your store? Because of a positive experience. This starts with the basics: good customer service, pleasant people, convenience, cleanliness and ease of shopping. The list goes on, but that should be the starting point.

From there, how can you build on that experience? Can you personalize or customize elements? More and more retailers are recognizing the importance of experience and offering services such as personal shopping, online ordering, delivery and expertise in specific categories. Many even include handwritten notes or other personal touches in packages to make the online experience feel like it’s one-to-one.

Get creative. Take those things that you do well and make sure that your customers are getting that benefit in their shopping experience.

3.) Build an effective loyalty program.

If you don’t have a loyalty program now, get started. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to you, but shoppers like receiving offers, discounts and feeling this sense of exclusivity. Letting your loyal shoppers in on perks or be the first to know about new products and upcoming sales further build your relationship and show them that you appreciate their business. Plus, this allows you to get information in return, learn more about your audience and what they’re buying.

4.) Get to know your customers and their habits.

On that note, get to know your customers. Whether you realize it or not, odds are that you have quite a bit of data at your disposal. As a starting point, look at your loyalty programs, sales reports, website analytics, email sends, Facebook engagement, etc. If you take the time to evaluate these sources of information, you’ll start to notice some trends emerging such as who your audience is, when they’re shopping, which products they prefer, how sales influence their shopping and what content they’re interested in.

There are a number of tools that can help with this analysis. L&S recently launched our Business Intelligence platform to help our clients do just this. By using Business Intelligence, we can aggregate a lot of data in one place to find these relationships between business indicators and marketing performance, to optimize campaigns and messaging.

5.) Leverage omnichannel opportunities.

I know, I just told you these five things would keep foot traffic in your brick and mortar store. Why on earth would I tell you to push people online or to another medium? Because people aren’t one-dimensional; they like options and convenience. Not every business is going to be able to provide e-commerce solutions.

If you can, good for you. Make sure your shoppers know about this option. If e-commerce isn’t an option for you now, how can you still interact with your shoppers on various media? Can they order online? Is it possible to reserve products online or by phone to pick up when they get to the store? Can they view inventory availability online? Are you able to send them notifications on sales or new products? Explore your options.

Decide what works for you. Last but not least, make sure your shoppers know about these options. Train your sales staff to continue the conversation. Your shopper will eventually walk out the door, but you can take advantage of resources to keep them engaging with you even after they get home.

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