Talk to a traditional retailer about Amazon, and they’re likely to bring up some choice words. Many people blame the e-commerce giant, with its nearly 200 million monthly active users, for bringing brick-and-mortar stores to their knees. So why is Amazon starting to dabble with building physical stores? Because 90% of shopping is still done offline — which means you can take a page from Amazon’s playbook to boost your store’s sales.
Building Customer Relationships and Loyalty With Personal Touches and In-Person Services
People love shopping on Amazon for two reasons: It’s cheap, and it’s convenient. What Amazon fails to offer is a personal touch. Seeking to change this, the company has begun building physical bookstores. In these stores, all book titles face out, despite taking up more room, and gadgets such as the latest Kindles are available for customers to try out. The idea is to get customers in the store, get them talking to staff, and keep them engaged.
As a local retailer, you can copy this model by setting up your store to promote interaction. If your store sells high-tech gadgets, for example, you could offer scheduled tutorials on how to use your most popular products.
Adding Technology to the Shopping Experience
Ever thought of implementing a brick-and-click business model? It’s the strategy Amazon is adopting with its growing physical presence.
With a brick-and-click model, you keep your physical location but also sell your goods online. The more integrated the two platforms, the better. For instance, you could let customers make purchases online and come to your physical store at their convenience to pick up the merchandise.
This arrangement is a win-win for you and the customer. The customer enjoys the convenience of online shopping but feels the gratification of driving to the store and leaving with new goods. Plus, you boost sales in two ways: by making it easier for customers to buy from you and by encouraging them to make impulse purchases when they show up to get their items.
How Branding Boosts Customer Loyalty
Think about what happens when you shop for an item on Amazon, such as a black yoga mat. If you’re like most shoppers, you plug in the search term "black yoga mat" and wait for the results to populate. Then you click on the Sort By menu and select Price: Low to High. Why do most online shoppers do this? Because they’re rarely brand loyal. Usually, they’re just looking for the best price.
Brick-and-mortar shoppers are different. Since they can see, touch, and smell items before buying them, they tend to develop an affinity for certain brands or lines. You can use that tendency to your advantage by creating positive experiences around your brand. If you sell sofas, you might set up a model living room in your showroom, complete with a flat-screen TV, video game console, and refreshments.
What if your brand is active in the community and gives to charity? Those efforts can inspire customer loyalty as well. Many shoppers enjoy paying extra for a product if they know their purchase is making the world a better place.
Amazon seems like a nightmare to most brick-and-mortar retailers, but you don’t have to fear it. Instead, learn from it, and use its strategies as a blueprint to boost your small business sales both online and offline.