We all know that up to 80% of shoppers who buy in-store start their path to purchase online.  Not surprisingly they frequently visit the websites of retailers whose physical stores they are considering buying from.  However, this linkage between online and offline is often under exploited by retailers.  With 90% of sales still taking place in physical stores there is a great opportunity to built this linkage to grow revenues. How to Convert Online Retail Shoppers to In-Store Sales?

What’s on most retailers websites about stores?

In most cases there is some type “store locator”. Some of them are very good but others force customers to work out which is nearest to them. Having arrived at a store location most have opening and closing times but a surprisingly large amount do not highlight specific changes to opening times for bank holidays such as Easter.  Another issue is that many retailers do not show where they have concessions in other retailers’ stores. This does not help the shopper.

The big question is…

Which stores actually have the exact products that I want in stock now? Few retailers websites provide this type of information. Even fewer offer the option to reserve the product for you to pick up same day.  Many more sites offer the option of ordering online for pick up in a store but the product most probably has to come from a warehouse first. This is easier for retailers to implement but does not help to get shoppers to your store in preference to a competitor’s who offers the same click and collect service.

What can retailers do to stand out from the competition?

The best at standing out from the competition with seamless customer experiences is indisputably Apple. They offer a simple to use online appointment booking service for their in-store Genius Bar. From a customers perspective if they can’t solve their issue online it’s easy to take the next step as an almost seamless experience. If you are not Apple you could offer an appointment with an in-store advisor or expert.
The big step is to offer an incentive online to actually visit a retailer’s store.  This could be a discount or offer exclusively “from the web” deal. These type of offers will encourage shoppers to visit your website more often as well as visiting your stores.  Imagine having a special event in your store exclusively for website visitors only.  You might even be one of the first to try it out.

Don’t forget in-store

As well as giving incentives to get website visitors into stores don’t forget to encourage shoppers in your store to also visit your website. Just having your website URL displayed is not enough. Be specific with offers and deals – print them on store signage.
We are just at the start of really capitalising on the linkage of online and offline channels. The main drive to accelerate progress is that shoppers who buy online and in-store tend to spend a lot more than those who just use one channel.

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