Figuring out online marketing strategies that support your brick-and-mortar store isn’t as difficult as you might think. Many consumers “webroom,” which simply means they research a product thoroughly online and then go to a physical store to make a purchase. Webrooming actually accounts for 67 percent of ecommerce traffic. No matter how local your business might be, having an online presence allows you to reach customers you otherwise might not have reached.
However, your storefront location also needs to be aware of online marketing efforts and work equally hard to integrate them into any marketing plan. Below, you’ll find 12 ways to integrate online and offline marketing.
1. Informed Employees
One of the first things you should do is make sure employees are informed about any online promotions or coupon offers and how they apply to the brick-and-mortar store. It is quite frustrating for customers to see an offer online, go into their local store, mention the offer and then receive a blank stare from the clerk. Even if the offer is online-only, the employees need to be aware of it and have a plan in place to satisfy the customer’s needs, such as placing an in-store online order or making a comparable offer.
2. Smartphone Pings
There is technology available that allows physical stores to ping a customer as he or she walks by the store. For example, if your business is located in a shopping mall and the consumer has downloaded your shopping app, you can send a “push” that if they come in today, they will find the new spring line. Pings can include a discount, the consumer can earn points for coming into the store or they can simply serve as a reminder that the business is there and the consumer likes that store.
3. In-Store Kiosks
Some companies have begun to embrace the way their customers interact with technology. For example, Staples and Kohl’s both offer in-store kiosks that allow you to order a different size or color of a product. If the store is out of all but the display item, you can go to the kiosk and order a new item sent to your home. In many cases, the shipping will be free if you order the item in-store, whereas ordering online requires a minimum purchase to receive free shipping.
4. Pointing Customers to the Website
There are many ways your storefront can point people to the ecommerce site for your store. Even though brick-and-mortar still accounts for 90 percent of retail sales, ecommerce is growing at a faster pace, so this is likely to change. As more and more people shop online, you’ll want to take advantage of that trend so your store doesn’t fall behind. Add your website address to bags and store literature and ask your employees to mention online specials to customers.
5. Experiential Graphics
Experiential graphics are elevated graphics that totally immerse the person into the experience. The designs include signage, way finding systems and even architectural graphics to create an impact on the consumer. These immersive environments can use a storytelling approach to educate and entertain visitors.
Imagine walking through an entryway that feels as though you are undersea with fish moving around you, the sounds of being underwater and such a vivid design that you’re almost tricked into thinking you’re a fish. You can easily tie this into your online efforts by adding photos and information about the experience in order to entice online consumers into visiting your store.
6. Click and Collect
While many online retailers in the United States offer free shipping with minimum orders, not as many have gotten into the habit of having consumers order online and then pick up in the store. There are a few standouts, of course, such as Walmart’s in-store pickup and Kroger’s ClickList service. Allowing those who prefer to shop online to place their order online, but come into the store to pick-up the item, is smart business that can drive foot traffic to your store.
Customers often base their decision to buy on the viewpoint of others who have already purchased the product or tried the business. Make it easy for your customers to see what others have to say about an item. Storefronts can highlight top reviews on displays or provide QR codes so the user can scan the code with a smartphone and pull up reviews for the item.
8. Personalize the Shopping Experience
Utilize your online data to help drive the shopping experience in your store. Take the time to look at who your typical site visitor is. Now, think about what might attract that person to visit your brick-and-mortar store. For example, if your target demographic is made up of millennials who love music, invite a local band and provide a special event for your customers to attend. Get creative with the ways you can reach out to your typical customer.
About 60 percent of people who purchase an item from a physical store say they do so because they want the product now and don’t want to wait. One way offline stores can benefit from offline traffic is to provide online shoppers with the information they need to get the product today instead of waiting for it to be shipped. This can include information such as letting the customer know the product is available at a specific location near where they are located.
10. Drive Online Sales From Offline
Train your employees to drive online upsells. For example, if a customer comes into a clothing store and buys a new outfit, encourage the customer to check out the “find your perfect pair of shoes” feature on the website. Or, have a sign that lets the consumer know that, if she didn’t find the exact item she wanted in-store, she can order it online. Train your sales team to help with online sales so they’re prepared if the need arises.
11. Offer Added Value
It’s difficult for brick-and-mortar stores to compete with online mega retailers. The prices can be difficult to beat, for example, and online marketing could fall flat. What storefronts can do is offer added value. For example, if the customer comes into the store, the employees can offer a customized experience and help the customer find the exact item he or she is looking for. You can also allow online orders from your store to be returned to a brick-and-mortar store as an additional enticement to buy.
People are busy and younger generations sometimes just don’t want to deal with talking to yet another person when technology can do the same task. Add an app where the person can scan their items and check out on their own without going through a line — or install self-checkout scanners in your store. By offering the promise of convenience, you can attract people who would normally shop online to avoid crowds or congestion.
What Is the Goal of Your Business?
One of the key things you need to do for branding is to figure out what your brand is about and how you can reflect that in everything you do. Make sure you send the same message whether you’re marketing online or offline. The customer should easily recognize elements of your business philosophy no matter how or where they interact with your brand.