As more brick-and-mortar stores are encouraged to move their selling efforts online, there is an interesting shift flowing the opposite direction. Big online brands like Warby Parker and Bonobos have recently opened physical locations where their customers can actually come in and try on their products.
According to various studies, when a shopper walks into a physical store and touches the store's items, that shopper is more likely to purchase that item. “Physically holding products can create a sense of psychological ownership, driving must-have purchase decisions.” (Source: Harvard Business Review).
This makes sense right? Think about those guilt-sucking magazines and sugar devils calling your name at the grocery check-out line. Being in close proximity with items, being able to touch those items, increases the urge to impulse buy. This is a strong case in favor of opening a brick-and-mortar, and perhaps one of the reasons online brands are adding offline locations.
If you’ve been thinking about opening a brick-and-mortar location of your own, here are a few ways you can maximize your efforts:
1. Proactive and positive interaction is imperative.
When a shopper visits your website to purchase or even just browse, there is no real expectation that someone interacts with you during that process. In fact, it may be considered quite annoying or intrusive if you do so. However, this is incredibly different when you have someone walk into your store.
If you’ve survived this long hiding behind your online shop, it’s time for you to come out of your shell (or hire people to do it for you). Leverage every in-store shopper to learn more about your brand and what attracts people. This is a great opportunity to investigate what they love and hate most so that you can use that information to make smarter marketing and production decisions.
2. Leverage your data.
Running a business online makes it very simple to track behavior. With a tool like Google Analytics, you can easily see how many people have visited various products on your website, where they came from and how often they return. This is not as easy with a brick-and-mortar. (That is unless you interrogate every customer, which I highly discourage.)
However, if you have a strong understanding of your audience, then you can use your online data to strategically increase customer relations in your store. For example, if you notice that most customers who buy a certain jacket online also tend to purchase a blouse with that jacket, you can encourage your sales associates to share these pairings with people who come into your store.
Or if you notice that a particular pair of shoes in your brick-and-mortar is being purchased much more than online, perhaps you could rethink the way you are positioning the product on your website. Maybe give it more context, better photography, or description. Keep testing and iterating. It’s also a great way to keep your employees engaged and interested in building stronger marketing efforts.
3. Centralize communication and keep it consistent.
If you have in-store shoppers who could be interested in purchasing more items online, get their email address while transacting. This is key if you’d like to further brand loyalty. Once you have in-store shoppers engaging with you online, you can segment this group and invite them to local store events and in-store only discounts.
The most important thing here is to collect both aggregate data based on your overall sales and customer behavior, but to also collect qualitative data that includes individual customer conversations about your product or things they’re interested in. Be a sponge and use as much as you can to improve your business through all sales channels, online and offline. There is always a connection if you look hard enough.
And finally - If you are opening a brick-and-mortar and you’re in the San Francisco area, be sure to send Stitch an invite to the opening. ;)