How digital investment can bring off line gains
Recent weeks haven’t been kind to some of the biggest names on the high street, with Toys R Us and Maplin both going into administration and New Look instigating a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) which has seen the company propose the closure of 60 of its 593 stores.
The digital sphere has been pinpointed as a reason why brick-and-mortar stores are struggling. Professional services firm Begbies Traynor’s regional managing partner, Julie Palmer, has commented that, amongst other aspects, “the continued rise of the internet [is] hitting retailers with a big High Street presence hard”, while Deloitte’s Daniel Butters has stated: “The retail trading environment in the UK remains extremely challenging, driven by weaker consumer confidence, the implications of Brexit and competition from online channels.”
Retailers operating physical stores on the high-street shouldn’t view the internet as a dangerous threat to their business, but instead, use digital to their advantage — as this blog post will explain…
Use your website to entice people to visit your brick-and-mortar stores
Just because your potential customers are visiting your website, it doesn’t mean that you need to give up your efforts of getting them into one of your physical stores.
Promotions can be very useful with this point in mind. Add an incentive of a voucher that must be spent in-store when people sign up to your newsletter, or shout about promotional events which people can only witness at your high-street shops.
Even customers who are making purchases on your website can be given a reason to visit your brick-and-mortar store if you offer a click and collect service. It’s a convenient option for those who can’t get their orders delivered to their homes or workplaces, not to mention the fact that consumers could be enticed to buy more stuff which catches their eye as they are picking up their items.
Let internet users know they are near one of your physical stores
At the 2016 Google Performance Summit, it was revealed that close to a third of all mobile searches carried out on Google are related to location. When you factor in that Google.com receives trillions of searches and that more than a heal of those occur on smartphones, this is a huge number of people searching for things near to them.
Therefore, make sure you are getting details of your brick-and-mortar stores in front of those who are searching for them by optimising your location pages around local search phrases like “[type of store] near me” and “[type of store] in [location where store is based]”.
You should also ensure your physical stores have a presence on frequently used map-based mobile apps — do this by submitting accurate and up-to-date information about each of your stores’ opening hours, contact details and addresses onto the Google My Business, Apple Maps and Bing Maps platforms.
Encourage customers to shout about in-store experiences
According to BrightLocal’s 2017 Local Consumer Review Survey, 97 per cent of consumers read online reviews based on local businesses during 2017. What’s more, 85 per cent said they now trust online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations.
With statistics like these, it only makes sense that you seek reviews from customers who are visiting and shopping at your brick-and-mortar stores. Do this by creating a hub on your website where people can easily submit reviews and then encourage people to head there to shout about their experiences — a small paragraph on a receipt which till staff can highlight to consumers as they are completing a purchase will be enough of a prompt.