Retail Online

There has never been a time when customers had more choice at their fingertips in regards to their purchasing decisions.

Retailers are competing with online outlets, and the internet-based sales giants are gaining more market share all the time. It’s up to the business owner to find those tools which will allow your business to not only retain its current customer base, but to continue to grow in this changing landscape.

Web Presence

The existence of a web presence is now crucial to success. A web site is important, but the manner in which a customer interacts with that web site is equally important, if not more so. In addition to simple applications, such as providing directions and hours of operation, incorporating sales tools through the site matches the larger sites, like Amazon, on its own terms. Obviously no single retailer is going to have the inventory of a big box site, but size does not mean that your business cannot provide the same service. By allowing inventory integration and purchasing via the website, customers can enjoy the benefits of online ordering while driving further business to your brick-and-mortar location through service and convenience. As should be clear, consult your technology partners to manage a secure payment portal and design for such an enterprise. Interacting with customers via Facebook and Twitter is also important, providing real-time feedback and alerting owners of potential service or inventory issues.

Analytics = Profits

Aside from basic sales and inventory management, as well as social presence, the addition of a third-party program, such as Loyalty Lane, allows a retailer to further interact with customers, but in a manner tailored specifically to that customer or group of customers. By using a customer number or card, every sale made to the customer may be tracked, allowing you, the business owner, to predict future behavior. If you want to know what a customer will buy, look at what they have bought in the past. You can then use this information to target customers based on their buying habits, sending mailers or emails that cater to brands or types of products they are likely to purchase in the future. This creates a sense of community between customers and your business, creating a buying experience that is unique to them. This same tool can be used for loyalty programs which provide discounts to customers based on their purchases, which provides incentive to purchase even more. Feature-rich reporting will allow you to determine your best customers, providing even greater marketing tools and rewarding those customers who spend the most in your store.

There are any number of tools available to foster communication and loyalty with customers in an age when the trend suggests more potential customers moving to the web. Yes, that does represent competition, but it also represents an opportunity to increase customer purchases with the use of relatively simple technological tools. As with everything technology-related, ask your technology partners how you can make the move to the web and open up a new space for your sales!