With so many online shopping options and so much social media out there, it’s easy to get distracted and forget just how important brick and mortar is to your business. With all that constant competition for attention, it takes more than the old retail playbook to attract visitors to your physical store. You’ve got to consistently reach out and experiment to keep growing.
Boutique retailers have a distinct advantage. Whereas retail giants invest heavily in their own technology to enhance the customer experience, your business can leverage cost-effective, off-the-shelf technologies and your small company’s ability to quickly adapt to create an in-store experience that will attract first-time shoppers, build relationships, and grow in-store traffic. Here are six ways to make this happen.
1. List all of your products online
More than 75 percent of shoppers will check you out online before they come to your store. Your website should encourage them to take the next big step and walk through your physical doors.
How do you make that happen? First things first: Make sure everything you carry in-store is also available on your website. These products should also be easy to find and, if possible, each listing should indicate whether products are currently stocked in a store.
If you have more than one location, display the in-store inventory availability online so shoppers know which location has the item in stock. Several retail software programs provide real-time inventory information directly for store inventory and simplify the process of adding, removing, or editing your online product listings.
2. Offer in-store pickup
If you have an online store, give customers the option to pick up items at your brick-and-mortar location. (If you don’t have an online store, get one ASAP!)
In-store pickup is incredibly popular among U.S. consumers. Sixty-seven percent of shoppers say they’ve used in-store pickup within the past six months. It’s also a great way to increase sales revenue: 75 percent of consumers say that when they visit a store to pick up a purchase, they end up buying additional items.
And it’s not just our opinion; 90 percent of retailers plan to offer in-store pickup by 2021. If you’re one of the few boutiques that drag your heels, you might quickly find yourself left in the dust.
3. In-store events
When your customers walk into your store, they expect an engaging in-store experience. Big retail brands can lean on large inventories, precise personalization, and high levels of in-store convenience, but you can leverage your familiarity with your niche and your local customers.
How do you turn your boutique into an event destination? Consider offering in-store classes, workshops, and demonstrations. You could also host appearances by prominent personalities, flash sales, and cross-promotions or pop-ups with other local businesses.
If you do this regularly, customers will remember your store as a place where community and engagement are a regular part of the shopping experience.
4. Email marketing targeting local shoppers
When segmenting your email lists, make sure local shoppers are segmented to receive content with local relevance.
This could mean offering in-store coupons, promoting in-store events, or showcasing new collections of products around upcoming holidays. All of these can help you stay top of mind with your local audience.
To grow your email lists, encourage email sign-ups through online account registrations, online orders, newsletter signups, and in-store signage. You can also use the increasingly popular practice of offering a promotional discount in exchange for a shopper’s email address.
Basically, you should train your employees to always ask for a customer’s email address during checkout. You want to be sure that every sale to an existing customer is connected to their email and that every sale to a new customer results in a signup for future communication.
5. Social media ads
Social media offers some of the best targeting tools for any company looking to reach a specific audience. For your retail boutique, the ROI potential for social media is huge because you can target ads to a specific audience based on criteria such as their location and interests.
If you have a small marketing budget, keep in mind that social media advertising can be incredibly cost-effective and help reinforce your normal social media activity. By using social media to promote your business, you can earn better returns compared to what you might see from strategies like keyword targeting, where you can find yourself competing against larger retail brands that have deeper pockets.
6. Create an eye-catching exterior and interior space
Digital channels are great ways to engage your customer base, but your physical storefront and interior design still need to draw customers in if you’re expecting your store to become a destination.
Branding, logos, merchandising, and design all matter. They need to align with your business while also making a strong first impression. It’s worth the time and investment to get these elements right, rather than pushing them down on your list of priorities. First impressions matter, and these elements are at the front lines of those impressions.
Given the role of social media and user-generated content, you should also consider how various elements of your store may encourage social media posts from your customers. This form of social advocacy is a free means of spreading the word about your business. Providing an “Instagrammable” shopping experience is a great way to support this organic promotion of your business and to inspire greater brand loyalty.
Maybe you don’t have the budget and inventory of a major retail brand, but so what? If you can offer a rewarding in-store experience, your boutique brand can compete with anybody. If you can distinguish yourself from the rest of the pack, you’ll be one giant leap closer to realizing your empire.