The 2020 Online Shift for Local, Upscale Retailers
2020 is one of those years we’ll remember as the year of the pivot. A total game changer and permanent shift in how we live, work & shop.
The pandemic has forced local retailers to quickly make the transition into ecommerce without losing their identity as a local retailer. It’s not an easy task.
Ecom seems so simple.
So, why is it proving so hard for local retailers? And why isn’t it working as well as you’d like?
We’re going to help you answer these questions.
This Guide is designed specifically for local, upscale brick & mortar retailers to help you sell more of your stuff profitably, online, without compromising your in-store traffic & identity as a local retailer.
It contains -0- fluff.
It contains -0- theory.
All of the information in this guide is based on things we’ve directly done with clients. It contains 100% actionable strategies that will help you transition as quickly as possible.
Busting the Big Ecom Myths
First, I’d like to clue you in on a little secret. Selling online isn’t all that easy.
In fact, it’s pretty easy to lose your shirt.
In the same way that creating a successful local retail business takes a particular set of circumstances, being successful in the Ecom world isn’t just something you can decide to do and turn a profit.
If you’ve ever read a case study about an Ecom retailer and thought, hell, I can do that… here are a few things that were probably glossed over in the summary you read:
- They had a huge “warm” audience of past customers, email subscribers or social media fans.
- They’ve spent a small fortune testing traffic, their offer, their website, their product pricing & product positioning.
- They’re on version 4 or 5 of their website.
- They offered a low-point initial product that lost money.
In other words, they’ve worked just as hard to build their Ecom business as you’ve worked to build your retail business.
Don’t underestimate the investment of time and money to do the things they’ve done in order to be successful selling online.
But don’t let this discourage you either.
Their goals for Ecom are different than yours as a local retailer. And now that you know some of what goes on behind the scenes, let’s get to your guide for success.
5 Steps to Ecom Success for Local Retailers
Step 1: Adopt the Right Mindset
Regardless of what you’ve read, most local retailers are not going to all of a sudden switch the majority of their revenue to touchless Ecommerce.
The shift for local retailers is to offer this as an option, but not the only one.
That’s because the reason most upscale local retailers are successful is that people have an inherent need to touch and feel major purchases as well as get help making the right purchase.
In other words, your typical clients value your expertise. They’re not just price shoppers.
If you think you’re going to switch on a cart feature & all of a sudden people will start ordering from all over the world, you’re in for disappointment.
If you think about adopting Ecommerce as yet another way for customers to do business with you in a long term process of evolving your business, you’ll be in good shape going forward.
Step 2: Getting Ecom Ready
Making sales online requires more than just adding a checkout feature to your website.
Online shoppers have different motivations than walk-in shoppers.
That doesn’t mean the same person who shops locally in your store won’t also buy something online. It just means that what motivates them to actually get out their wallets is different in each scenario.
To sell online, you’ll need:
- A shopping cart that works with major credit cards
- Fast, free shipping & free returns
- A money-back guarantee
- Lots & lots of 5 star customer reviews
- A good opt-in offer for those not ready to buy today
- A strong financing offer if your product is expensive
Having a low price offer or item helps, but this strategy isn’t for everyone since that low price offer will likely cost you money in the beginning.
Step 3: Refine Your Message
Ecom sales are about being comfortable seeing something online and making a purchase. You never actually see the item until it arrives at your home.
This is where local retailers have a big advantage.
People walk into retail stores because they want to see the item for real before they purchase it. They also want your help in choosing between several items they like & the ability to safely return it if they’re unhappy.
Local retailers should shout this all over their websites.
Great messages that work for local retailers transitioning to Ecom include:
- Free virtual consultation (Zoom, Facetime, etc.)
- Schedule a private consultation in our showroom
- See all your options
- Shop your way
- Free shipping & returns
- Pick it up curb-side
- Shop by appointment
In other words, tell locals they can see it before they buy, which is something that most Ecom retailers can’t offer.
Let your customers choose how they shop with you. You’ll be happy you did.
Step 4: Rethink Your Traffic Plan
If you want to sell online as a local retailer, one thing is for sure: You’re going to need more website traffic.
Your past clients and people who know your business think of you as a local retailer. So while they might make their purchase online, the chances are those sales will be a fraction of what you’re expecting.
Getting more traffic to your website can be done through:
- Improving your local search rankings
- Google Ads
- Social media activity
- Facebook & Instagram Ads
- Email marketing
You can also still use broadcast media like radio to drive website traffic. Just switch the focus of your ads away from ‘Visit Our Showroom” to “Visit Us Online”.
Our Suggestion for More Traffic:
In 2020, we’ve found the best use of digital marketing spend for local retailers has been running social media ads on Facebook and Instagram.
And when we say “ads,” we’re not talking about boosting posts.
We’re talking about broadly targeting people in your local area with ads designed to bring targeted traffic to your website.
Then, you retarget those visitors with relevant follow-up ads based on which pages they visited on your website.
Dollar-for-dollar, social media ads produce the best “cost per conversion” of any traffic source we’ve tested.
Step 5: Step Up Your Content Marketing
The reality of Ecom is that if you do a great job, you’ll convert 3-5 website visits out of 100 into sales.
That means the other 95 or so people won’t take action.
Is that a bad thing? No. It’s normal. Especially when it comes to upscale purchases.
It’s human nature. People shop. They look. They think about it.
A major part of Ecom marketing is building the size of your audience and staying in touch with them regularly with high-quality, engaging content.
You’ve got to offer them a good reason to opt-in to your email list or join your social media following.
Then, you’ve got to build the relationship with them by sharing great content until they’re ready to buy.
Continuously sending “buy my stuff” messages will quickly get them to opt-out of hearing from you.
High-end retailers will benefit from content marketing that includes:
- Unique, original photography
- Blog content
- Email content
- Video content
- Live content on social media
When done regularly, content marketing will prime your audience to buy when they’re ready. It will also help tremendously when it comes to peak seasons like Christmas.
Take the Next Steps – Your Way
The migration to Ecom is happening. But it won’t be the only way people shop going forward.
Local retailers can cash in by offering this as a new option to potential customers. But they also hold the advantage when it comes to seeing merchandise in person before making a purchase.
We believe this need will never go away, especially in the upscale or high-end retail world.
If you need help getting your retail business Ecom ready, please get in touch with us today!