Young Asian American woman surveying clothing rack in a department store while carrying several shopping bags

What brick-and-mortar retailers can learn from e-commerce businesses

Did you know that the revenue of e-commerce markets is projected to reach $4.23 trillion in 2022? The market is expected to grow at an annual rate of 11.58%. Meanwhile, worldwide in-shop retail sales amount to $27 trillion and are projected to grow at 5%

The e-commerce market is growing more than 2 times faster than the in-store retail market. But brick-and-mortar stores are here to stay. If you want to stay competitive in the brick-and-mortar sales, you have to upgrade your customer experience in stores.  

Here are 6 crucial lessons brick-and-mortar retailers can learn from e-commerce businesses.

1. Lost sales are always followed up

E-commerce businesses see every consumer as a conversion opportunity, especially the ones who take an interest in the product but decide to abandon the cart at the last minute. 

Fortunately, you can learn a lot from your customers. Online stores have been tracking and collecting customer data at every stage of the customer journey. It enables them to make informed decisions. 

As an owner of a brick-and-mortar store, you can:

  • Come up with appropriate follow-up questions and recommendations when a customer doesn’t convert

  • Have sales associates offer appropriate alternatives if a customer doesn’t find an item in a specific color or size

  • Ask a customer for contact details if they want to be notified when the new merchandise arrives

  • Welcome customer feedback and listen to what you can do to make their shopping experience better

These tactics can build relationships with in-store shoppers and eventually turn them into loyal customers. 

2. Access actionable data via social media

Social media offers plenty of opportunities to increase your sales. Online stores already know this and use social media platforms to achieve various goals. They collect and analyze reviews consumers share on social media to discover customer sentiment and in what context the brand is often mentioned. This enables them to improve their brand image and build a social media following.

Social media platforms are not reserved only for e-commerce businesses. Create an official social media page for your store and start building your audience.

Additionally, you can use social media monitoring software to help you get notifications every time your brand is mentioned on social media, in real time. You can then listen to your customers, interact with them, and respond to their demands at the right time.

3. Manage your inventory in real time

Online stores apply tried-and-true practices in inventory management. They use real-time item stock adjustments and notifications. That’s why customers can easily see which products are currently available online and in which color and size. You might be under the impression that this calls for extra work. 

Luckily, there are plenty of technology options to make this an easy task.

  • Consider using RFID software to digitize in-store inventory. That way you will have instant insight into your inventory visibility across stores and warehouses. Many RFID-enabled real-time inventory management tools offer features that streamline tracking, among other upgrades.

  • Think about downsizing: Offer a special shopping experience in smaller physical locations while also selling online. Sephora opened smaller locations and started adding digital components that are boosting customer experience and satisfaction.

An omnichannel sales experience can give you an instant view of products across all channels and provides a seamless and effortless customer experience. As you enable sales across different channels, you should expect to experience some challenges. Many successful online stores with a high volume of sales find in-house inventory management along with warehousing and fulfillment unsustainable. That’s why they outsource e-commerce logistics to 3PL warehousing companies

Partnering with a 3PL warehousing company can help you save time and money, expand your reach, and leverage industry expertise.

4. Improve the shopping experience

Brick-and-mortar stores can find it hard to cope with the fierce competition in the e-commerce market. The main reason is that online stores offer more convenience to customers. 

But traditional stores can learn from their online counterparts and provide exceptional customer experience to attract more prospects and convert them to loyal consumers. 

Here are a couple of great ideas to consider:

  • Connect your traditional store with your e-commerce website to create a unique value proposition

  • Train your employees on new technologies to optimize your retail services and resolve customer queries quickly and efficiently

  • Create innovative customer touchpoints to promote your brand

  • Consider developing loyalty programs for regular customers

You could also consider introducing QR codes in your store. Since most modern shoppers use mobile devices, they’re used to scanning QR codes to find out more about brands, products, and services. 

QR codes can help you reach out to your customers, establish a connection, and maintain a relationship by offering incentives, updates, product/service recommendations, and more. 

Finally, e-commerce thrives on the activity of online communities. Find ways to harness that immense potential and use it to attract more prospects to your store. 

5. Deliver top-notch customer service

Customer service is the area where e-commerce absolutely outperforms brick-and-mortar retailers. Online shoppers count on customer-centric service and support on their customer journey, which is why Customer Experience Management (CEM) is a $11.34 billion industry in 2022, estimated to reach $32.53 by 2029.

Online retail stores do everything in their power to simplify the process of serving and supporting consumers. However, e-commerce customer support doesn’t just solve problems and answer queries—it helps shoppers make informed purchasing decisions. Brands also count on those interactions to craft a positive brand image and reputation for their respective businesses. 

Since modern consumers have incredibly high expectations, here are the best e-commerce customer service practices to consider.

Consistent customer service

The top priority here is maintaining a consistency of customer experience at all times. Modern consumers demand the same customer support levels across the available communication channels, especially during urgent and critical events. 

Reducing the response time to a minimum is an effective way to build relationships with your customers, tap into their needs, and understand their preferences. These insights could help you improve your sales.

Personalized approach

Consumers expect a tailored approach from every retailer, and customer service is the touchpoint that allows brands to maintain constant communication with their target audiences. 

This constant contact can provide you with insights that help meet your customers’ ever-changing demands. A personalized approach is especially important for scaling your business operations. 

Multi-channel communication

Multi-channel communication is a must for sending customers down the sales funnel. Brick-and-mortar stores can provide customers with multiple channels, such as:

  • Website

  • Retailer-related search engines like Shopzilla, Bing Shopping, and Google Shop

  • Social networks like Pinterest, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Facebook

  • Email

  • Phone

Real-time live chat is also a popular support channel that allows your service agents to instantly respond to customers’ queries, directly from your website. But before developing omnichannel support, you should learn more about the channels your customers prefer.

6. Act on purchasing and customer behavior trends

E-commerce businesses frequently change their listings by removing items and adding new ones. They use customer purchasing and behavior trends to help inform those decisions. 

You can do it as well! The easiest way to do it is to track in-store product inquiries. It will help you better understand your customers and identify their preferences. Your product assortment and store layout should reflect customer needs and wants.

CRM enables you to record all important customer interactions, identify demand and lost sales trends, discover the best practices, and further optimize your product assortment and store layout. 

For instance, you may discover that some products need to be displayed in more prominent positions. You can also learn why customers aren’t interested in some products you have in stock, and which products you can add to capture more sales.

Conclusion

Although the pandemic may have expedited the adoption of e-commerce, brick-and-mortar stores still dominate the retail landscape. Business owners shouldn’t see their online counterparts as a threat but as an opportunity to integrate top customer and shopping experiences into their operations. 

Digital business technologies can help brick-and-mortar store owners advance their services, develop new products and services, establish better communication with consumers, and leverage user data to take customer interactions to the next level.

If you want to get ahead of your e-commerce competitors and provide customers with exceptional service and flexible payment options, visit our website today and tap into our tailored solutions and resources to digitally transform your brick-and-mortar business.

NOTE: This is a guest blog post from Tooltester.

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