Beyond Online Marketing: Creating a Positive In-Store Experience

There’s a huge push for small businesses to create a positive online experience and optimize social media to bring in new customers. So many businesses are focused on just the online stuff that they forget to create a positive in-store experience for customers. In store experienceThis is especially true for small retail businesses where getting a customer in the door is half the battle and the other half is landing the sale.

No matter what marketing efforts are made online, whether it be SEO, mobile ads or apps, or AdSense, they will not guarantee a sale for your business. It’s important, then, to know exactly what the customer wants when they see your store.

These tips are useful for any small retail business, even if your store is purely online. Believe it or not, the online shopping experience and the physical shopping experience aren’t that different in terms of customers’ expectations.

For example, both a physical store and an online store can employ social media as a means to answer questions and engage customers (whether happy or unhappy). While that is a part of marketing and getting customers in the door or keeping them happy after the purchase, it is a good example of how physical and online stores can employ similar strategies.

Once customers are in the store, they are expecting a couple of things (remember, for both online and physical locations). Customers especially like to see clear and distinctive return/exchange policies. An ambiguous exchange policy can often mean the difference between a sale and a lost customer. Broader inventories and better products are also a must. So, for example, if you want to sell cell phones at your store, stock more than iPhones. You can buy a variety of cellphones wholesale.

More specifically for online stores, but can be a factor for physical locations, customers are looking for free or discounted shipping options. This is a mite selfish of customers; shipping is expensive. Whether it be ordering online, which can be any number of items, or buying furniture and expecting it to be delivered for free. However, the customer is always right. One great way to subvert this so that your business doesn’t lose money is by saying something like, “spend $200 and get free shipping.”

This is especially pertinent with the holiday season coming up. Customers will go through hundreds of stores physically and thousands online. Even if you have absolutely free shipping or have a huge variety of products, if your store is not setup well or your website is poorly designed, you will not land any sales.

The one thing that I want small business owners to take away from this article is that despite the huge emphasis on online marketing strategies going on right now, you need to optimize your actual stores or customers will click or walk away without a backward glance. Don’t forget, just because the Internet has changed the way we market and sell our goods, doesn’t mean that the fundamentals of landing a sale has changed.

About Ron Oliver

Ron Oliver is a U.K. based retail shopping analyst.