There’s no doubt that online shopping is here to stay, and that Amazon is huge, and that word really isn’t big enough to describe just how massive it is. What’s a small to mid-sized retailer to do? Call it quits? Throw in the towel? How can you possibly compete against Amazon? Well, though Amazon may be huge, it doesn’t do everything well, and there is still a significant majority of people who do brick-and-mortar shopping. So hang there, let’s look at some facts.
First, let’s get clear on some important statistics. According to the US Census Bureau, about 90% of all purchases in the US still take place in a physical store location. No one has a crystal ball to predict with confidence how long that percentage will stay as high as it has for the past several years, but some analysts are predicting that even by the end of 2020, more than 87% of all purchases will still take place in a physical store. Brick-and-mortar is clearly not going anywhere.
Still not convinced? Amazon accounts for nearly half of all online spending, which adds up to about 5% of US retail sales. As massive as Amazon feels to us, there is still plenty of room for opportunity in the brick-and-mortar arena.
Let’s take a look at ways to compete with Amazon and grow your brick-and-mortar business.
Have an online presence. Shoppers are increasingly researching their planned purchases online, prior to buying in a physical store. You don’t necessarily need to sell your products online, but having an online presence where customers can learn about your store and its brand(s) is a must-have in this age of technology.
This digital presence can be achieved in a variety of ways. You could have a simple website, or just a landing page. A Facebook page is a must-have. Get familiar with how to post, plan them out, and post on a regular basis. Consistency is key.
Today’s customers are savvy. They have the ability to purchase just about anything they want without ever having to place a foot inside a physical store. Yet the majority of customers still make their purchases in a store. Why? It’s all about the experience.
Create a compelling environment in your store. The brick-and-mortar shopping experience must be enjoyable. When customers step through your door, what will they experience? How does it look, taste, smell, feel? Everything that a customer can see, touch, feel, hear and smell while in your store contributes to a positive experience – or a not so positive one. Consistency is critical here, especially for a brand/retailer that has multiple locations. A customer should be able to visit your multiple locations and though each physical space may be unique, they should still be able to feel they are experiencing your brand in a consistent manner, and in a manner that you intended. You have the ability to create an incredible, tactile experience for your customers that will create lasting memories and hopefully lead to repeat business.
Provide knowledgeable, accessible service. Have you ever tried to get a live person on the phone at Amazon? A great advantage brick-and-mortar stores have over Amazon is the ability to develop real, genuine relationships with customers. Shopping can be challenging, the choices overwhelming, which is especially true with online shopping.
How can you compete against Amazon and their seemingly limitless inventory of products? Customers are often a little undecided on the exact style, color, fit, or any of the other endless options that might apply to the product you sell. Knowledgeable, personable, helpful sales associates are a must-have in order to compete with Amazon.
Customers are walking into your stores with a purpose. It’s your store teams’ job to set the stage for each and every customer to have an exceptional experience. After all, retail is a people business. Today, a retailer’s success is about how you sell as much as it is about what you sell. There is great power in person-to-person retail. Your associates need to have personal knowledge of, and a commitment to, your brand in order to inspire that connection with customers.
Your store teams should be able to articulate: What is your brand story? Why is your brand story important? Why should your brand story be important to your customers? Having a sales team that is able to use the intimate knowledge of your brand to inspire the same feelings of connection for the customers who enter your stores is an important way to grow your business and compete against Amazon.
The Brick-and-Mortar’s secret weapon – great people! A key to growing your brick-and-mortar retail business is to hire outstanding sales associates, train them well in the features and benefits of the products you sell, and most importantly: treat them well. Today, this is the secret weapon in the world of brick-and-mortar retail. Having a beautiful store will mean nothing if you lack the right people. Your store employees are the brand to the customer, and your brand will only be as good as the weakest person on your team. Having employees who love what they do, who are excited and enthusiastic about their jobs, will be seen, felt, and experienced by your customers.
Think about the places you love to shop. What is it about those stores that you like so much? Is it really that they sell products that are so unique that you couldn’t possibly find them online? Probably not. Most likely, you go out of your way to shop there because you enjoy the experience. You like how you feel when you’re there. Maybe you get inspired by how the store presents their merchandise. Maybe there are a few wonderful sales associates with whom you have great conversations. Maybe the store offers free samples and you get to taste your way to a shopping bag full of yummy treats that you normally would never have even considered buying.
Does it really boil down to being just about having great people? Yes, and no. “No” in that you still have to have a great concept, great product, fair pricing, and a good location. But also “Yes” in that you can have all of that 100%, and then fail miserably if you choose poorly when building your team of employees.
It’s simple, not necessarily easy, but it IS possible for brick-and-mortar to compete against Amazon, and win.
Retail Level Up provides the tools, resources, guidance, coaching, and expertise to help retailers survive and thrive in this new age of technology. Visit our website www.retaillevelup.com to learn more. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to request a call or meeting.