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3 Tips for Promoting Synergy Between Online and Physical Stores

September 8, 2016

two men shaking hands to show the concept of merging online and physical business

Almost every retail store has an online presence to cater to a wider selection of shoppers. While these virtual shops offer more flexibility for customers, it’s important to take advantage of the possible synergy between brick-and-mortar stores and their internet counterparts.

Why Online Retail Is Damaging Some Stores

To understand why synergy is so beneficial, it’s important to examine what happens when there isn’t any. “Showrooming” is a phenomenon born of the modern age and plaguing retailers all across the nation. This fairly recent term refers to consumers who go to a store to browse products and features, but then make their purchases online from competitor companies. It’s costing some businesses millions of dollars annually. The effects are so strong, in fact, that Best Buy has implemented unique barcodes that can’t be scanned for comparison with other sellers such as Amazon.

The Factors That Draw Customers to Online Shopping

People don’t just shop online for no reason. They browse various retailers to compare costs in just a matter of minutes. Online shopping also offers a wider selection of products. Brick-and-mortar stores may not carry (or may be sold out of) certain sizes, colors, and models. Chances are, however, that the items you want are available on the internet with fast (and free) shipping.

Customers also like being able to buy on their own time. Online stores never close, which can appeal greatly to those who work night shift, live far from physical shops, or have excessively busy schedules. These three factors—better prices, more personalization, and greater convenience—are what shoppers favor when they buy online.

Extending the Power of the Internet to Brick-and-Mortar Locations

As the market goes through technology-fueled changes, businesses have two options: resist the trend or adapt to thrive. Anytime you’re fighting against the advancement of technology, you’re part of a losing battle. That’s why synergizing real-life and virtual shops is the best way to embrace the shift in retail and align yourself for success. Many successful companies have connected the two worlds to their benefit in the following ways:

  • A well-trained sales force. Research shows that 80% of consumers study products and ask for recommendations before making a purchase. Of course, there’s plenty of information available on the internet, but people are more likely to trust the in-person opinions of others. Educating your associates will enable them to provide shoppers with recommendations that hold more weight than online consumer reviews. The impression that you care about customer satisfaction increases the chances that he or she will buy from you (online or in-person). Even if you don’t have the lowest prices, trust and loyalty can go a long way.
  • Offer in-store services to online customers. Accepting online returns is a huge benefit, especially since a significant portion of Americans doesn’t want the hassle of sending back a product. Likewise, providing free site-to-store shipping saves you money and guarantees the customers will appear in your brick-and-mortar location. Even with its convenience, online shopping doesn’t offer the same experience as “traditional” stores.
  • Online specials to draw in more customers. One of the most popular methods is to email or to text in-store coupons. A sale will pique customers’ interest. If they were already browsing, then they’ll be compelled to come in-person. This in turn exposes them to more merchandise and to your well-trained associates (see point above). You can use this method to encourage shoppers to visit your online store rather than your competitors’.

The online retail world is here to stay. If you want to be successful, then you must take advantage of synergy between your platforms. Not sure how to get started? Contact TallySoft today for more information on our ecommerce solutions.

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