How to Capture Both Online and Offline Sales Traffic This Holiday Season

Ho-ho-ho-boy, this isn’t going to be an easy holiday season for businesses this year.

The latest intel suggests that the split between online shoppers and offline shoppers is going to be about even -- so a business that ignores either market while advertising and planning for the holidays does so at its own peril.

Don’t worry, however -- we’re going to show you some ways to capture both kinds of traffic and convert prospects into sales as often as possible.
All the Rules Have Changed

The demographics among your shoppers have changed tremendously over just the last few years -- and it is having an undeniable effect on which businesses survive and which ones fail.

Generation Z and Millennial shoppers tend to browse brick and mortar stores with their cell phones in hand to do quick price comparisons on products -- which is bad news for a lot of the big box stores. If two corporate giants are selling the same product at different prices a mile apart from each other, the store with the lowest price is going to win.

As a result, 2017 has seen 6,098 major store closings, including such notables as Macy’s and RadioShack. That’s a 182% increase over the previous year.

Does this signal the end of the brick-and-mortar business? Absolutely not. It signals a change in what your customers want.

A total of 3,381 major new stores have opened their doors, which is 58% more than in 2016 -- and that number doesn’t include the majority of small Mom and Pop specialty stores that are starting to sweep the market.

What’s happening is that today’s shopper is moving away from the impersonal and towards the “experience.” Shopping in a store is less a necessity and more and more a leisure activity -- so this really is the era of the SMB owner.

You capitalize on this using three simple methods:

●    Make the experience with your product personal.

●    Encourage the customer’s perception that small businesses provide artisanal goods, better quality products, or better a quality of service.

●    Sell customer service as part of the product itself.


It’s a Tangled Road From Prospect to Customer

In a perfect world, every potential customer who sees an online ad for your product thinks, “I want that,” clicks a link to get to your page, and quickly reaches for a credit card to pay for the goodies.

Something similar would happen inside your brick-and-mortar store. Every person who wanders in to see what’s behind the window displays would lovingly finger one or two objects and wouldn’t leave without them.

In reality, the path is seldom that straight or simple for either shopper. There are a lot of showroomers out there -- people who do their shopping inside brick-and-mortar stores but leave empty-handed to purchase online. Webroomers do just the opposite -- they spend a lot of time browsing online but end up heading to the brick-and-mortar stores to do their buying.

The trick is to make sure that your showroomers end up going to your website to purchase -- not your competitor’s. Naturally, you want your webroomers to do the same in reverse -- head to your brick-and-mortar, not someone else’s.

Grab Those Showroomers and Webroomers and Keep Them

Don’t even think about trying high-pressure sales tactics. The current generation of shoppers will see you as trying to “close the deal” rather than collaborating with them -- which is what they want (and what you want, if you want their loyalty).

General Steps to Take:

  1. Give your mobile site a good makeover -- if it isn’t working properly, you’ll lose out on a major SEO opportunity and frustrate consumers.
  2. Link your mobile site to Google Maps. If a customer is using their phone to locate your physical site, make it easy.
  3. Identify specific campaigns you want to push during the holidays. Break your online pages down so that people can sort gifts by cost and recipient to make choosing easier.
  4. Don’t overwhelm your online shoppers -- too many options can both overwhelm a consumer and give them the idea that there’s nothing special about anything you do.
  5. Decide ahead of time how to package deals so they’re the most attractive to your buyers -- for example, keep in mind that many online buyers now expect free shipping unless they want next-day or two-day service.
  6. Have gift cards ready -- and make sure you sell personalized notecards to go with them. Gift cards still make up 48% of purchases so if you don’t have them yet, get them.

Capture the Showroomer:

Showroomers drive some SBOs crazy because they seem genuinely interested in the products but somehow never get around to opening their wallets. Try these methods to change the status quo:

  1. Never let a showroomer leave empty-handed. Have a coupon good for online that will match any in-store sale you have going. Make sure that one of those coupons leaves with every person that steps through your door.
  2. If your business lends itself to samples, encourage showroomers to try them. Engage them as personally as possible.
  3. Offer to hold purchases to the end of the day -- especially if you’re located in an outlet or mall with a variety of other shops. Your showroomer may just be afraid of being loaded down with packages.
  4. Hire a wrapper or two for the season and offer wrapping services. One of the benefits of online ordering is that everything already comes in a box -- there’s no worry that a child or significant other will see the gift before it’s wrapped.
  5. Crowds and checkout lines are the top two reasons people abandon brick-and-mortar purchases. To beat this issue, arm your sales staff with smartphones and Square (or some other credit card reader) and put them on the floor. Make sure they have bags handy and know how to email receipts for a quick close.

Lure in the Webroomer

Webroomers are big on comparisons -- they’re often afraid to commit to something unless they’ve seen it in person -- but your shop may be inconvenient to get to or they may fear the same thing the showroomers do: crowds and lines. Here’s how to work with them:

  1. Offer online codes that are good offline -- either via a downloadable code to their smartphone or a printable coupon. That encourages the webroomer who is finally ready to make a purchase to come to your store -- not the competition’s.
  2. If the webroomer leaves a few items in their shopping cart, follow-up with an email the next day reminding them the items are there. Offer a discount if they purchase within 12 hours of the email.
  3. Offer gift wrapping as an upsell at the checkout -- that takes the total hassle out of shopping for them.
  4. Make sure that you offer -- in bold print -- a generous return policy on holiday gifts. That may ease fears that are holding the webroomer back.
  5. If you offer products that are highly personalized, like charm bracelets, engraved products, hand-composed items or gift baskets, offer to let the customer schedule an appointment with a consultant. You may be losing a sale simply because a consumer doesn’t like one item that’s offered in a gift basket. A quick change out by a consultant for a similarly-valued item could change the whole nature of your relationship with that particular client.

Keep in mind that the newest generation of shoppers are still emerging and are still forming their retailer and brand loyalties -- you have a chance this holiday season to make the changes and connections that will earn you loyalty for life.

About the author

Kelly has over 20 years marketing, sales and customer service experience. He is a champion for small businesses and prides himself in helping them compete and thrive in a digital world. Kelly is currently the VP of Marketing for Boostability, a company dedicated to helping small businesses grow online. He manages a team that is responsible for demand generation, customer messaging and experience, branding, social media and all things marketing. His expertise includes search engine optimization, social media, content marketing, customer communication, lead generation and conversion optimization, to name a few.

Twitter - @kellyshelton32

Email – [email protected]

Phone – 800-261-1537


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