If I tell you the internet has disrupted the way physical locations run their business and think about customer acquisition, you’d say, please say something new!
Well, I’m the resilient sort and I’m still going to give this a try. Nothing much, just 3 rules! I’ve found these popular with brands which successfully amplified their presence when the internet came knocking at their doorstep.
Let’s take the restaurant industry as an example. We can all relate to our favorite pizza slice or the wings joint we swear by! With the arrival of delivery apps amplified by social media (Uber Eats, Caviar & GrubHub), things have dramatically changed. What lies ahead for these brick and mortars? Will they die? Will their online competitors take over the logistics and execution of their customer model? Will the brick and mortar co’s be left only with operational responsibility over basement kitchens, fulfillment centers, and fully lose their brand identity?
In my opinion, the short answer is NO.
To succeed in the current environment, all of us need to learn from the digital first businesses (Amazon, Zappos etc.) and apply those learnings to our physical stores. Below are some:
- Would you buy from a site which doesn’t look good and doesn’t allow easy checkout? No, right. Amazon is a trillion dollar company based on mastering those 2 basic things. Apply the same principles for your physical store. Invest in an aesthetically pleasing store front and interiors. Make the checkout process seamless. Don’t make them wait in long lines or unorganized hoops. They’re giving you their money! Take it quickly and efficiently before your customers change their mind.
- Gather data in your physical store at every possible opportunity; By default, this is the underlying power of the internet. Every customer that ever visits your website, every buyer that ever buys anything from your online store has some sort of record in a database. Look at ways to extend that into the physical world. Modern POSs (with built in CRMs) are a great way to do that. It can help you identify first time customers, repeat customers and develop strategies to talk to them in specific ways (called re-targeting in the online universe). When repeat customers walk in, arm your sales reps with the data and train them to communicate to people exactly how your website would have interacted with them. Also people who are not buying your product but are only visiting your location, develop innovative methods to acquire their contact info.
- Offer something unique in your physical store which they can’t find in your online store; Now here comes the differentiator. While your online presence can be the most efficient way to fulfill orders but to build a strong brand identity, you need your customers to interact with your brand at a place where you can curate the surroundings. This can be done in your store front. Many possibilities exist here! Offer a 5 minute complimentary massage, give a small soft serve, etc etc. You get the gist! Do something which conveys your brand gesture but doesn’t break the bank.
It’s upon us in the franchising world — the backbone of this nation (contributing more than 40% of the jobs) to take the digital trend in its stride for our physical storefronts. Unsurprisingly, the backbone of franchising are bricks and mortars (QSRs/FSRs accounting for over 35% of all new locations opened).
In-store shopping has always been and will always be a more effective way to build a brand. If you still have doubts, think about Apple. They could’ve easily taken the cheaper option by selling all their products online but here we are, ready and excited to go to the Apple Store for our new iPhones!
About Tanuj Joshi: Tanuj has been leading product and technology teams for the last decade in cutting edge advertising technology firms which include Criteo, Integral Ad Science and MediaMath. He is passionate about simplifying design and technology for making complex stuff accessible to the everyday user. As Eulerity’s CEO, Tanuj is now realizing this vision by making marketing technology usable without a manual, at an affordable price.