Shoppers are falling into the gap. They’re frustrated. And it’s time to look at your business and help them build the bridge between your online and in-store shopping experience.
Now, what do I mean by all that? It starts with the great advances that independent retailers have made over the past few years in their digital proficiency. Most dealers were already on a path to digital proficiency well before the pandemic set in, but virtually every independent retailer advanced leaps and bounds over the past two years. Today, dealers who are leading the pack in breaking their sales and profit records have leveraged digital tools to the fullest. They’ve deployed a fully e-commerce enabled website equipped with live inventory feeds, designation of display product and armed with advanced chat capabilities that allow them to serve online shoppers on demand.
In addition, they’ve engaged digital marketing tactics, leaning into platforms driven by machine learning and automation, and they’ve invested in their digital spend. They’re taking advantage of a reputation management platform to make sure they’re timely and highly engaged as shoppers share their experiences.
In short, they’re on par with the nationals and big boxes in their digital presence. And it’s great. We know that around 90% of shoppers begin their path to purchase in durable goods online. Independents must win online, and when they do, they’ll see these shoppers either buy online, directly from their websites, or, still more likely, they’ll see these shoppers enter their stores. We know that the vast majority of purchases in appliances and furniture, as well as higher-end consumer electronics and premium sleep systems still take place in-store. But only if the shopper isn’t lost in the gap.
Today’s shopper expects a seamless experience from the moment they encounter your brand until long after their purchase. Here’s the problem: For many independents, their capabilities and resources online have now outpaced those leveraged in-store. Most shoppers today enter the store with a pretty good idea of the brands, and in some cases specific products that will likely fit their needs. They’re seeking to learn a little more and to have their decision validated – or re-routed to a better option.
So, how do you meet those needs?
Start with digital price tags. They’re not the future tech anymore. They’re table stakes. You need connected tags that make sure your pricing is what it should be, all the time, every time. It’s a small investment, and so many dealers have shared that they covered the cost of the tags with the dollars they’ve saved from the elimination of pricing errors. And they’ve taken a big step in bridging that gap that shoppers found when the price was one thing online and, in many cases, more in-store.
Second, to educate and validate, you’re going to need digital signage. The days of static “sale” signs is over. Today, you must engage at a higher level. Tell a story. And, with the right digital signage partner, you can do just that. Serve hyper-relevant content to shoppers as they make purchasing decisions. Don’t rely on your team to tell them what the product can do. Show them. Digital signage drives closing rates, higher ASP and makes for a much more satisfying shopper experience. It’s a no brainer. It’s all about getting in the game and providing just as much content in-store as you do online.
As an independent, odds are you’re crushing it online. Now, you need to make sure your bridge is built, secure and makes shopping fun! Grab digital tags. Grab digital signage. Combined, they cost a fraction of what you’d normally invest in a store makeover — even of the smallest scale. Catch those shoppers before they fall!
This article was first published in the March 2022 issue of Retail Observer.
Mike Whitaker is