How your offline sales drive the expectations of your online customers

 

It can be easy to group your customers online and offline, providing different purchasing experiences for each. For example, you may think your online customers want to be able to checkout quickly, while your local customers want the expert advice of your store staff and will spend longer in the store than they would expect to online, or you may set up impulse buy zones, or strategically sell related items inside your store, but won’t set the same up online.

 

We understand. It can be much harder to picture your customers shopping online than when they’re in the store so making that important addition to your physical store is often obvious and easy.   Good news: Your customers online are the same as those in your store, and their expectations are often very similar and driven by choices you’ve made in your store or stores in your industry.

 

Your website should be as informative as your staff

 

Many people view their online site as a place for customers to find products and check out as quickly as possible. Although it’s important to intuitively allow customers to complete their purchase quickly, they will need all the information they would normally get in the store. With the ability to pick up the product, no box to view, and no staff asking if they have any questions, they’re often left to fend for themselves.

 

Ask your staff what the most common questions they receive are and use this information to populate an FAQ, your product page, or even a knowledge base for an AI-based chat.

 

Organize your products like a brick and mortar store

 

When organizing your brick and mortar store it’s likely that you know which items are commonly purchased with other items, which items are going to be popular, and which items are purchased as the result of an impulse buy decision. You may also move certain items closer to your staff when you anticipate questions, or close to other related items because you know they’ll be purchased together.


When your customers begin shopping online at your store they will expect the same sort of organization and assistance. Take a look around your store to see what selling organizational techniques are working for you. Does grouping all accessories into one aisle make it easier for your customers or do they prefer accessories for an item to be placed next to the item itself? Are the products in your store group by season, activity, type of product? If it’s working well in your store, you may want to do the same online.

 

Don’t be afraid to drive your extra sales in the same way

 

When organizing your store you’re always conscious of ways to get those extra sales, from adding the right products by your till, tucking away impulse items on the end of the aisle or presenting your best sellers or big sales right at the front of your store. 

Here are some key suggestions for accomplishing this on your website:

 

  1. Highlighting sale items on your home page is a great way to move some top-selling products. Try adding a carousel that’s consistently updated with popular on-sale items.
  2. By adding related items in a carousel on your product page, or creating dynamic searches for related products you’ll make it easy to find groups of products you normally place near each other.
  3. Just like in your brick and mortar store you can have products in more than one place. An outdoor GPS unit could show up in your sales section, in related products, in your GPS category and in your outdoor electronics category all at once! 

 

It should be just as easy for your customers to get more information 

 

One of the biggest benefits to a customer entering your store is the ability to instantly get advice and feedback from staff who know your products best. The biggest advantage you have when competing against big-box retailers online is that you are much more equipped to offer this same service online.

 

  1. Offer chat during the hours that your store is open. Incredibly likely that the majority of your online sales will be during the hours that you are open.
  2. Do you have products without a given price? If you’re not sure how to sell these items online, offer the ability for your customers to request a quote, book a call, or otherwise receive the same help they would receive in-store.

 

There are only a few suggestions here, but you know your customers best. We recommend that you survey and talk to your local customers about what keeps them coming to the store, what they gain from you and what gives your local store the advantage of other local and online stores. Be creative, and find ways to offer those benefits online as well.