With brick-and-mortar stores closing, how do you keep yours alive?
Reports are flooding in about the downfall of brick-and-mortar retail in America. According to a CNN report, more than 6,700 stores in the US closed their doors in the first three quarters of 2017, a number greater than the 2008 recession when less than 6,000 stores closed. It's estimated that before 2017 ends, there will be 1,900 more stores closing their doors. Even large box stores like JC Penney, Walgreens, and Sears haven't escaped the torrential rains of the online retail sector.
It’s hard to believe that brick-and-mortar stores will close permanently, but you can’t deny that online retail is a major contender. With that in mind, brick-and-mortar stores are concerned due to digital competition. How do you stay competitive in this ever-changing landscape?
Marry the digital and physical
About 96 percent of Americans shop online, and the majority say they prefer this method. This doesn’t mean that brick-and-mortar retail is dead, but it does highlight the need to combine digital and physical realities. Physical stores that wish to compete must use both digital and physical advertising mediums.
A great way to incorporate the digital and physical world is to promote social media integration at your physical store. You might offer 10 percent off a customer’s purchase when they like your page on Facebook or use a specific hashtag on Twitter. You might also advertise your website on the walls of your physical store.
Online instructional videos, such as how-tos or educational bits regarding your products and services, also make great digital advertisements for your brick-and-mortar store. For example, a hardware store could develop a series of how-tos to promote their products, like “how to lay tile,” “how to paint without splattering,” and “how to fix a leaky faucet”. They might also make a series of clever commercials that are customized to the local clientele, which could be advertised on Google Ads, social media, and other geo-targeted networks.
In both your how-to videos and online commercials, you’ll want to include music to make things catchy and remove any awkwardness. Using music in this capacity requires a synchronization license because copyright laws prohibit companies from using any music in videos/commercials without permission. A service like Tunedge will help you obtain proper licensing so that you can legally use music in your videos.
Make shopping more personalized
If you can find ways to tailor the shopping experience to each individual customer that walks through your doors, you’ll have a fighting chance at staying open. A classic method is using excellent customer service, which is something that online shoppers crave. By going the extra mile to offer specific products and services, shoppers can get specialized treatment that they can’t online.
Another way is to marry the digital and the physical once again, using apps and technology to connect customers with the right products. Many big-box stores offer this through apps. The store Bonobos, for example, launched Guide Shop, an app that allows customers to try on clothing in the store, and then ship the right sizes home. They don’t have to carry a single package home with them.
This might be too large of a feat for small organizations, but there are still ways to connect on a more personalized level. Developing an app for your store is more affordable than ever before, and you can offer special coupons and advertisements based on your customers’ shopping history.
Enrich the in-store experience
Bring all your ideas together for a more enriching in-store experience, making it about more than simply selling products. Although that’s still the main end goal, you can use more creative means to achieve it, primarily by making customers want to visit your physical store.
If you visit a major supermarket like Target or Walmart, they’ll almost always have a Starbucks or McDonalds inside. Walmart also brings in banks, hairdressers, and optometrists to attract more customers. Urban Outfitters offers bars and restaurants in many of their stores, which is a huge hit among the millennial generation.
While it might be hard for a small to medium-sized business to have major restaurant chains in their storefronts, you might be able to make a deal with a local thriving eatery.
You could also offer services based on your industry. For example, Nike and Lululemon offer an enriching in-store experience through yoga and fitness classes at certain locations. Using the example of the hardware store, you could easily offer classes on laying tile or basic plumbing repairs to bring attention to your brand.
For brick-and-mortar stores, the appeal is in the experience. The more you can bring together the digital and physical world and create an experience that consumers can’t find online, the more secure your business will be.
About Boris Dzhingarov
Boris Dzhingarov graduated UNWE with a major in marketing. He is the CEO of ESBO ltd brand mentioning agency. He writes for several online sites such as Tech.co, Semrush.com, Tweakyourbiz.com, Socialnomics.net. Boris is the founder of MonetaryLibrary.com and cryptoext.com.
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