Simple Ways to Leverage Your Existing Customer Base
Starting with the early days of the 21st century, it became increasingly difficult for brick and mortar businesses to compete with their online competitors. The lower barriers of entry and widespread availability of internet access allowed online upstarts to pop up seemingly overnight, outcompeting brands that had stood the test of time for many decades.
Even the popping of the internet bubble in the early 2000s was not enough to kill off eCommerce. Instead, online shopping took off in a big way, and today it is an integral part of the retail experience for most shoppers.
Given these new realities, it is important for business owners to adapt, augmenting their existing retail operations with new online channels.
If you are thinking about expanding your brick and mortar business online, the customers you already have can be your biggest assets, how you handle those relationships will make all the difference in the world.
Here are some simple ways to leverage your existing customer base when expending your brick and mortar retail store online.
Offer an Order Online Pick Up in Store Option
Online shopping can be great, but sometimes a hybrid approach works even better. If you want to make the most of your online operations without cannibalizing your brick and mortar sales, a pick up in store option could be the perfect solution.
Providing your customers with the ability to pick up online orders in-store benefits both the buyer and the business. Shoppers can save time that would have otherwise been spent hunting down the items they need, while retail shops can benefit from additional in-store purchases and impulse buys at the point of purchase.
Provide Online Only Discounts to Existing Customers
The shopping bags you give your customers do more than carry their purchases; they can advertise your business and help you build out your new online channel. If you want to encourage customers to shop online and spread the word about your offerings, why not print up some coupons and drop them in every bag that leaves your store?
Offering special coupons with online discount codes to existing customers will encourage your loyal clientele to check out your new marketing channels. Even more importantly, those coupons have a way of spreading far and wide – to family members, friends and others who will soon be beating a path to your virtual store.
Set Up a Referral Program
Your existing customers can be your best brand ambassadors – if you give them a chance. Setting up a referral program is a great way to reward your best customers while spreading the word about your new online operations.
Print a special referral code on all your receipts, urging brick and mortar shoppers to share their experiences with their friends in return for a special online-only or in-store discount. Don’t forget to drop coupons and flyers in each shopping bag with the referral information on them too!
Setting up an online channel is a great way for brick and mortar businesses to survive, and thrive, in a difficult retail environment. This combination of online and offline retail serves the evolving needs of customers, business owners and shoppers in the 21st-century world of commerce. The ideas listed above can get you started, but the rest is up to you.