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12 min read
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Connecting with customers: key to winning sales over in-store shopping and online giants

Emily Corke
Emily Corke
Senior Content Marketing Manager
Connecting with customers: key to winning sales over in-store shopping and online giants

Amazon’s breakthrough growth is starting to show signs of slowing. The pandemic saw the digital giant break records with more than 200 million customers signing up to Prime. However, Amazon's growth is beginning to level with predicted sales expected to dip as customers start to return to bricks and mortar shops.

With next-day and same day delivery made so affordable on Amazon, customers have been instantly drawn to the retail giant. But now that the world is opening back up again physical stores may draw crowds back with even more convenient shopping and no shipping costs required.

Smaller retailers, particularly those with a direct-to-customer (DTC) model, will be pleased to hear that the Amazon tidal wave is slowing. That said, if the prime reason is that people are heading back to bricks and mortar, how can you ensure that you are winning over Amazon and physical stores?

Here are a few key tips to consider.

Keeping up with the convenience factor

Shipping and delivery costs are a big factor when it comes to completing transactions in the check-out phases. Attractive shipping options like free delivery as well as qualifying basket exchanges for free shipping are now expected by customers. They also increase your conversions and give you an increased average order value (AOV).

In the context of trying to win out over Amazon or bricks and mortar, attractive shipping options and increased convenience like next day or same day delivery are imperative. M&S has upped its competitive ante by becoming the first big fashion chain to offer nationwide same-day deliveries.

If convenience is what the consumer is after, they get it from in-store and Amazon at no price at all. If you can get packages to your customers in less time, for less, without cutting into your bottom line, you can also tick the convenience box.

Consider the following shipping strategies:

Offer free shipping. If this makes sense for your margins, your will gain instant appeal with this offer. You could consider a special offer where shipping is free for a limited time.

Charge the exact shipping costs. This gives the customer the chance to choose the shipping that best suits their needs.

Offer flat rates. This might require more preparation so that you don’t drastically under charge or over charge, but a flat shipping rate will give the customer the sense that they are getting more bang for their buck.

Offer annual delivery passes. Some retailers like Next and Asos offer delivery options for their premier members who pay a yearly flat fee for free and unlimited delivery with no minimum order value.

Connecting with your customers

Connecting with your customers online is one area where you can win out over retailers like Amazon. But it is also one area that is non-negotiable now when you come up against in-store experience.

Customers expect the same help and shopping experience online as they were used to in-store. In fact, they expect more from your virtual shop front than your bricks and mortar. An online store alone isn’t going to cut it – they want to engage with your brand as they would with a sales assistant.

What’s more, if customers can buy your product on Amazon, your relationship with the customer is pretty much your only means of differentiation.

Speak to your customers, get to know their pain points, what they prefer. Learn about their behaviours by paying attention to where they interact with your site, where they drop off and when the abandon their carts.

Use the tools in your arsenal to attract, engage and delight your customers with product recommendations. One such tactic is Guided Selling, which can be used to guide customers to make a purchase.

Guided Selling uses a third-party tool that sits on your website and engages with customers. This allows you to use human-programmed question ‘flows’, machine learning, or a combination of the two, to simulate the in-store consultation experience.

Personalisation wins the day

Another area that usually wins over Amazon is the opportunity to personalise the experience with your brand. With more footfall moving to physical stores, you may even have more of an opportunity to drive greater personalisation through your online experience.

One way to do this is to track how your users interact with your website. First-party data derived through your website analytics, can be used both to forge deeper connections, improving your return on investment. You can also consider making use of zero-party cookie data, where a consumer actively chooses to give data with you, to personalise their online visit.

One tool that will win over both competitors in this context is email remarketing. You can use email remarketing to attract customers back to your site when they have abandoned the browsing session or even left items in their carts. Email remarketing can also be used to cross-sell products based on that individual’s browsing and purchasing history.

Some onsite third-party tools and email remarketing tools are connected, giving you the opportunity to further personalise content for the customer throughout the journey. In this scenario, the customer views products that interest them and onsite technology logs that interaction regardless of what device they used. Then, if the customer exits the site without making a purchase, they can click on an ad or email they receive straight to the relevant product, page, or cart full of the items they looked at in the first place. It creates a seamless, personalised experience.

Unifying your in-store and online experience

If you are looking to boost your bricks and mortar sales, without causing too big a dent in your online sales, a unified approach is always the best one. You want your customers to have the same experience in campaign, discounts, purpose, and engagement whether they enter your physical or online store.

This is also called an omnichannel approach and the goal is to create a consistent experience across physical and online channels. It gives the customer the chance to engage with your brand on their own terms where they still experience the same seamless integration of branding, messaging both online and offline.

The common thread among all these tips is remembering the human behind each potential filled cart. Whether it’s taking their needs into consideration with free delivery, or a seamless, personalised experience on your site, connecting with your customer will set you apart from in-store shopping and Amazon. That connection with the added convenience and seamless customer experience is the superior execution that will draw more traffic and sales to your site.

If you are looking for more tips on how you can better engage with your customers, increase your conversions, and boost your revenue, book a 30-minute discovery call today. Fill in your details below.

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