Quick: close your eyes and picture what your stores look like to your customers.
Ok. Open your eyes. What did you see?
A rich experience where your customers can engage with your products and sales associates, try, touch and feel products, and discover new items they never imagined they would buy before they walked in the door?
Now, close your eyes again, and this time picture how that physical store looks to a customer who is searching for your store online or on their mobile phones.
Chances are, you’re sitting there wondering what I’m even talking about.
Your Online Stores: Not Such a Pretty Picture
Let me paint a picture for you. A customer looking at your store on their connected device most likely just sees…a pin on a map.
Big difference from what they experience when they get to that store, huh?
Why is there such a major disconnect? Eighty percent of visits to stores start online, and half of those start on mobile. For most of these customers, all they are finding is a point on a Google map and a link to your official eCommerce site (which has nothing to do with the customer’s local store).
It should come as no surprise then that today’s connected consumer’s next click is to open their Amazon App.
Your stores never had a chance.
Increasing Your Stores Advantage Over Amazon
In order for your website to be a strategic tool against Amazon, it needs to move beyond the “pin on the map” view of the physical store online. Think about how you can take the in-store experience you imagined a few moments ago, and interpret that through the lens of your customers’ mobile phone.
Fortunately, there is a wealth of data surrounding the store that can be leveraged to help achieve this goal:
- Just think how many more customers would come to your stores if they could not merely find the store, but actually shop the inventory in that store, the inventory that they can purchase right now. This is the single most significant advantage your physical stores have over Amazon in local markets.
- Alternatively, how many more online visits would you be able to convert if customers could easily discover the top trends in their local market? Merchandising is one of the most powerful marketing tools, especially when it successfully connects brands to consumers and provides an effective platform to reflect the uniqueness of each local market. Think about how different Miami is from NYC, and NYC is from LA. Designing stores around local market trends and the purchasing needs of customers is a merchandising strategy that allows for deeper connection and greater local appeal.
- Finally, consider the opportunity for the store to merchandise based on weather conditions in that local market. A potential customer on a warm day in San Francisco could see shorts and sunglasses, while a similar customer walking outside to a cold day in NYC finds sweaters and boots.
These are just a few local nuances that your stores are already able to adapt to, but they are limited to the four walls of the store. Leveraging contextual data to merchandise at the local level on your website allows your customers to find so much more than a pin on a map when they discover your stores online. By providing a better connection to the store, you can leverage your stores to engage customers and keep them from searching “Amazon” on their phones.
Sandeep is founder and CEO of Radius8, one of four Aptos partners that participated in our Innovator’s Shark Tank session during Aptos Engage 2017. To learn more about Radius8 and how they can bring your local store to life online, visit Radius8.com.