All companies have the chance to open up an online store and create a virtual shop window where consumers can scroll through and then place an order, which is often less expensive than shopping in-store.
Although brick-and-mortar shopping at times falls short in this digital age, there are many benefits to shopping in-store that eCommerce businesses can’t compete with. For instance, imagine that you run an online t-shirt shop and wish to sell eye-catching Christian shirts, but your potential customers can’t commit to buying them because they can’t feel the material or try out the fit.
The great news is that there are brick-and-mortar principles you can use online to make it simpler for customers to shop and go through the sales funnel quicker. Below, we look at how you can recreate the brick-and-mortar experience in your online store.
Utilize The Tools At Your Disposal
If you wish to open an online t-shirt business, for instance, one of the most important steps is to write a t shirt business plan, just as you would do for a physical business. This is a tool that helps business owners and entrepreneurs start and develop their businesses as it lays out a growth plan, explains your business goals, and contains market research to support your plan.
Today, technology is available that can create profiles for each shopper, as well as store data in relation to what they’ve bought and looked for, then push products in their wheelhouse. For example, a “we think you might like” sidebar will show your customers that you pay attention to their preferences and if done properly, it will replicate the experience of a salesperson who’s there to offer good recommendations.
Imitate the Offline Experience With Personalization
The reason why customers love shopping offline in stores is their access to physically-available products. For instance, if customers are in the market looking for new chairs, they can sit on them to gauge the feel before deciding whether the chair is the right fit for their needs. This is a missing element when going online to buy products.
Customers hesitate whether they should buy such products online because product descriptions might be vague, the online reviews aren’t always positive, or there aren’t plenty of product specifications to learn from.
The online experience for buyers should therefore allow them to get a sense of the products before they decide to buy. This is where Augmented Reality (AR) comes in as a useful tool as customers can see themselves using the product without having to touch the product in person. Companies can now incorporate AR into the shopping experience and bring the offline experience online.
Allow Easy Browsing and Comparing
The tricky thing about online shopping is that customers find the desired product online and place an order but sometimes the item that arrives isn’t exactly what they had imagined or expected.
This is why online businesses should focus on bringing the brick-and-mortar experience online by using videos and user-generated content (UGC) to show the products from different angles and how they’re used in different scenarios. This way, customers get a better idea of how the product looks in real life and on real people.
An increasing number of eCommerce businesses are also allowing customers to upload UGC in their website’s review section. By implementing this approach customers can see products being used by different people and they can get an idea of how the product will fit into their life without them guessing. In other words, give your audience the experience of browsing the racks like they would do in person while they’re spending time researching your products online.
Be Quick to Help
When in the store, shoppers can easily ask a shop assistant for help and guidance. This isn’t so easy when shopping online but it’s still possible. Equip your customer service to be responsive and on-brand.
A great idea is to introduce a live chat and let your customers get the answers to their questions immediately. Use a live chat as a touchpoint for building brand affinity, with a consistent tone of voice and make it easy for clients to speak to one of your team members rather than a chatbot as they will be able to provide personalized answers and not generic ones.
Turn Feedback into Social Proof
As a business owner, you might already know that customer feedback can be an effective way to build brand affinity, improve services and products, and support new customer acquisition.
When shopping in store, customers have no issue telling shop assistants directly what they’ve made of their experience, be it positive or negative. However, these conversations usually don’t have lasting implications. On the other hand, online, you can formalize feedback to collect valuable insights into customer sentiment and gather social proof that drives new sales.
Negative feedback can also turn out to be something positive as companies that react to negative feedback and act on it are more likely to see their customers return and order again.
The shift to eCommerce allows retailers to interact and build connections with shoppers in new ways. But being online isn’t enough. However, by using the abovementioned tips, you’ll be able to recreate the brick-and-mortar experience in your online store and keep consumers interested and engaged.
Iskra Banović is our seasoned Editor-in-Chief at BlueFashion. She has been steering the website’s content and editorial direction since 2018. With a rich background in fashion design, Iskra’s expertise spans across fashion, interior design, beauty, lifestyle, travel, and culture.