As this article states, small businesses need to take advantage of the opportunities presented by internet and mobile technologies. While the big boys have the budget for large data analytics and expensive systems, small businesses can still manage their online presence in a cost effective way. Ferret Card is a low cost solution to manage an online loyalty program, with Facebook integration to reach out to customers.
Shoppers now have the internet wired into their psyche, retailers should just accept it.
Shoppers are continuing to desert stores in droves – and it’s all due to the internet. Fifty-three per cent of customers have actually stopped an in-store purchase as a result of using their smartphone, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau.
The only way retailers can win them back is to drag themselves out of the dark ages and into the digital age.
To start with, small shops need to shape up and start emulating the big end of town. They need to recognise that customers now have the internet wired into their psyche. Customers expect retailers to communicate with them, to be open and to make their lives easier.
We now live in a new era of mobile and sensory technology. We have online transactions, and we have a society where the conversation is increasingly online.
Many retailers are approaching this as a war, but it’s not a death match, it’s a love match. It’s something to embrace, not fear.
What are big retailers and supermarkets doing differently? They’re accessing powerful, data-based analytics that track and analyse customer behaviour. They’re driving sales and winning customer loyalty through highly targeted promotions and deals.
They’re doing this in-store, and continuing the conversation outside the store. These days customers know everything about brands, warts and all. Retailers need to know more about them.
The big retailers already do this as a matter of course – through loyalty programs and so on. Target’s analytics are so in tune with its customers based on their shopping, it can famously predict major changes in their lives, such as pregnancy. This allows exceptionally relevant, targeted marketing in most cases.
But how do the rest of retailers, who don’t have such huge budgets, deal with this?
Fortunately, the online world has already got some exceptional tools, such as Google Analytics. Through digital signage, these online tools can be used in-store. Customers can interact with in-store tablet touchscreens, to find product information without having to get out their phone.
Bunnings tried this with a “toilet selector”. Advanced touchscreens delivered the exact information customers needed then and there, right next to the real product. It also demonstrated how to take measurements and select the right product.
The chain thought this was great for customers and staff. Customers no longer had to chase the one plumbing guy around the store on a Saturday morning, kids in tow. And it saved staff time and effort.
Another successful example is BedShed. Their screens essentially brought the internet in-store. Customers could easily sign up for a mailing list, and generate a custom brochure. They could also self-serve, or call for help if and when they needed it.
The internet hasn’t “won” (yet).
NAB’s Online Retail Index found that in 2012, online sales accounted for only 4.9 per cent of retail spending. Of course online retail is growing strongly, but currently 95 per cent of people are still walking through the physical doors.
Life online is very quick and easy, retailers need to replicate that in-store. US home improvement retailer Lowe’s announced last September that it was investing in equipping 42,000 employees with iPhones. Others are putting their bets on tablets.
Give a sales person a tablet, and they have a whole new angle for the conversation.