A recent Wall Street Journal article, entitled “Hybrid Stores, Can Shopping Be Fun Again?” discusses an important issue facing all retailers who still operate brick & mortar stores, in addition to their online ecommerce capability. How can they make shopping fun again? How can they increase sales in their brick & mortar stores? How can they drive more traffic to those retail locations?
The article puts forth the idea that consumers are more discerning than ever before and are expecting exciting shopping opportunities. For the retailer, this means coming up with new ideas such as holding parties in the store (for example, a fashion store holding a fashion show and wine tasting event), offering sessions where something is being taught (for example, a hardware store demonstrating and training on the correct use of a new tool), and even combining traditional marketing with the new social media platforms (for example, setting up a booth in the retail store where customers can take pictures with their purchases and immediately upload the pictures onto their Facebook page).
Many retailers are just beginning to understand that social media platforms can indeed improve their retail sales. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media sites have shown how increasingly popular they’ve become, with thousands of new subscribers and/or users being added each day. Don’t forget… these social media users are also consumers and are using these social media sites in a whole new way – changing buying behavior from a more passive approach to a much more interactive style, with thousands of consumers providing product reviews and recommendations on a daily basis. Retailers are finding that these reviews and recommendations are sending more people to their brick & mortar stores than all the radio, TV and other forms of advertising and marketing that they have been paying dearly for over the last five years.
Retail stores need to differentiate themselves by creating a new and exciting in-store experience and by communicating directly to their target market through the social media platforms. Consumers used to come to the store, now, the store has to come to the consumer. Social media helps build brand awareness today more than traditional advertising can, especially because so many consumers of all types are “hanging out” on the social media platforms, talking to one another, and recommending products and services.
A few ideas to increase sales and incorporate social media are:
1) Provide product demonstrations in the store that are then uploaded to your Facebook page or YouTube site and encourage viewers to “Come On Down!”
2) Provide mobile experiences – A study was recently conducted and it was discovered that seventy-three percent of smartphone users indicated they would find it useful to receive instant coupons as they pass items in stores
3) Show streams of relevant tweets, Facebook status updates, and customer reviews, or make them easy for shoppers to find online while they are in the store
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About the author; Elias Amash is the President of GRIP. Located just south of Grand Rapids, Michigan, GRIP features a 200,000 sq. ft. state of the art warehouse facility including a 2,000 sq. ft. product showroom. GRIP carries a product line of over 1,500 specialty hand tools, household items, automotive, air tools, wood working, and general merchandise. With its proven track record of excellence in supplying retail clients with innovative products, timely fulfillment, and world class customer support, the ideal solution to your retail needs in GRIP.