How bricks and mortar stores can fight back against online shopping

In Canada, online shopping currently accounts for only about one in ten purchases. However, internet sales are growing at a rate of 20 percent annually so retailers need to act quickly to stem the tide.
Here are some tips on how retailers can not only maintain their existing sales but also find new markets and opportunities.

Wonderful customer experiences are key

There are still plenty of people who prefer to shop at stores. It’s easier to try on clothes at a retail store and you can squeeze the vegetables at a supermarket to make sure they are fresh.

Most importantly, retailing provides shoppers with an opportunity to ask questions, gather advice and learn more about a product. So it’s vital that your team members are well-trained and ready to provide amazing customer service.

Consider offering some special events at the store to draw people in. If you run an art shop, you could organize an evening with music and appetizers. A running equipment store could feature a presentation with advice from a local physiotherapist about staying injury-free.

Customer preferences are constantly evolving. So be sure to regularly gather feedback about what your clients are looking for. Quality data leads to quality ideas and great outcomes.

If you can’t beat them, join them!

Only 28 percent of small businesses offer internet shopping. Small retailers can embrace e-commerce, giving consumers the option of buying online or coming into the store. These days it’s not that difficult to set up an online store using tools like Shopify. Or you can take advantage of existing systems like Amazon, e-Bay or Etsy.

Not only does this provide local consumers with an online alternative, it also allows retailers to expand their markets geographically. For example, a pottery shop can promote its wares online and ship beautiful artwork anywhere in North America. A specialty sporting goods store can send clothing and equipment to people who may not have a similar store in their community.

Build long-term relationships with customers

Creating a loyal client base is the key to a successful business. You need to work hard to get your customers coming back again and again. Of course, you must build solid personal relationships when people come into your store. In addition, you can leverage online opportunities to support your retail business. Create a mailing list and send out a regular newsletter with helpful tips, special events at the store and sale prices. Engage your clients on social media and answer any questions they may have.

The times they are a changing

Yes, retailers are under pressure and need to be creative. But it can be done. By embracing new marketing ideas and leveraging online opportunities, retailers can not only stay alive but also thrive.