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Smart ways to make your brick-and-mortar store digital

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We can all agree that the last few months have been really tough for businesses and individuals alike. Quarantine, lockdowns, and social distancing have meant that a lot of retailers have had to close their doors, or at least limit their services, putting a huge strain on income.

Industries have taken a hard hit during this time, with the tourism, entertainment, and travel sectors taking the majority of the blow. However, food and groceries have seen a sharp rise during this time, together with other household items and health and wellness products.

The largest jump was naturally seen in the eCommerce industry. In under a month, from March to April, global traffic jumped from 12.81 billion global visits to 14.34 global visits. eCommerce sites globally reported at least a 35% jump in traffic and sales during the period, with the trend continuing as restrictions start easing.

Thousands of companies, retailers, and service providers have scrambled to move their offering online to stay relevant and profitable. The ability to be agile and adaptable is key for companies, and if you are looking to shift your operations online too, now is the time to do it.

We took a look at the key pointers that you need to consider when moving your company online, and what you should implement to make it a success. Good luck!

Re-think your inventory management

Running an online store and a brick and mortar store are two totally different things. An eCommerce store requires a completely different inventory system. You will need to rethink your forecasting and demand planning, as well as rework your warehousing or storage facilities.

Unlike in a brick and mortar store, you will need to automate a number of processes, including tracking, tracing, and fulfillment. You will need to have a real-time view into your stock numbers and the movement of your stock in order to not be overstocked, while at the same time, being able to fulfill customers orders.

There are a number of great online resources where you can read more about how to effectively manage your inventory, as well as great online tools to make use of. Do a bit of research, but also see what does and doesn’t work for your company and you will soon start finding your flow.

Optimize your site for your customer

Your website will now be your storefront. You will need to be able to convey your brand digitally to your customer, so look at your site from your customer’s viewpoint. Take the customer journey as they would.

Is your landing page simple, attractive and does it have the right elements? The images cannot be too large, otherwise, you will battle with the loading speed and your SEO will be impacted. Is your call to action noticeable and is it persuasive for them to take the next step?

Your product pages need to contain every bit of information you can provide your customers. Remember, they cannot touch and feel your products. So, include the following:

  • Several images of the product, including different angles, close-ups, and different colors;
  • Dimensions and specs of the product;
  • Well written descriptions with relevant keywords;
  • Customer reviews;
  • Shipping details;
  • Price;
  • Similar suggested products;
  • A defined CTA.

Refine your check out and payment processes

Right, your customer has found your site, pin-pointed their product and the sale is in the bag. What you need to be aware of at this point, is that the checkout and payment process is one of the biggest causes of cart abandonment. So if you want to actually convert those sales, you need to get this right.

No pressure.

The rule of thumb, keep it as simple and as transparent as possible. Keep your check out forms simple and quick to fill out. Customers will drop off when they see that they have endless forms to fill out. In fact, 21% of customers drop off when navigating your site gets too complicated, so get those forms as simple as possible.

Payment is also one of the top reasons for drop off. It could be down to the surprise of added shipping costs at the end of the process (50% of customers drop off because of this, by the way), the lack of payment options, or the fact that they were nervous about their card information.

Provide several payment options; EFT, Credit Card, COD, or reward systems. Also, make it abundantly clear that your site and the payment gateways are protected and that their information is safe!

Pivot your marketing and messaging

No longer can you solely rely on your storefront to bring in new customers, now you have to coax them in with your savvy digital marketing skills. Here, content is going to be your best friend.

Get your blog up and running and start creating informative and educational articles that you can share a few times a week. Not only will you start seeing an increase in your SEO ranking, but you will start drawing in visitors to your site.

Say you are a health and wellness shop. Articles like “Five Ways to Naturally Boost Your Immune System During This Time” will be hugely popular and are what is currently being searched, a lot. Add your CTAs in the article to link your customer back to the product on your site that is luckily on promotion that week.

Share your content and your products as much as possible. Facebook, Instagram, affiliate sites, paid ads, emails, and influencers can be all used to get your message and brand out there. Just keep sharing!

Last thoughts

The key thing to keep in mind when pivoting your brand online is to keep the customer in mind at all times. Keep going back to elements on the site and to the flow of your sales funnel and keep testing things out. You can easily measure and track your traffic to see what is working and what is not. Don’t be scared to try new things, especially when it comes to your CTAs, images, and content. If something isn’t converting, get rid of it and try something else. In fact, A/B testing is even more efficient and allows you to see first hand what is generating more interest.

About Sherryn De Voss

Sherryn De Voss is is a marketing specialist with a focus on helping small business be the strong backbone of the economy.

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