Since the early days of e-commerce, businesses have adapted to a new customer buying experience.
Despite early warnings of their impending demise, brick-and-mortar stores are far from doomed.
Instead, there is now a greater understanding of how a company’s online and physical environments work together.
In fact, many companies make a concerted effort to ensure their online presence feels more store-like. Here are seven ways to add more of that in-person touch to your online store.
7 Ways to Bring the In-Store Shopping Feel to Your Online Store
- Online Merchandising
- Reviews and Educational Tools
- Cross-selling and Up-selling
- Consistent checkout experience
- Offline and Online Alignment
- Use Feedback
Pay attention to merchandising.Inside a store, merchandisers pay attention to what a customer sees when they walk in and how to guide them through experiences. That thinking applies to your online store as well. Just as you empathize with customers to create eye-catching displays that make them want to browse and buy, it’s important to take a virtual walk through your online store, too. Leverage online shopper journey data to make sure your online tabs, pull-downs, and product categories align with, look, and feel like what’s in the store.
Think simplicity, too. Simple websites are scientifically better, according to Google research. Keep these three insights in mind.
- When a customer clicks on a product category, what do they see?
- Are the products or subcategories easy to navigate on those secondary pages?
- Would the collection of products be in the same areas in the physical store?
- If they choose a single product, go beyond specs and descriptions.
- Make sure there are multiple photo views.
- Give shoppers the ability to get a close-up look at the product packaging as if they were holding it in their hands.
- Use videos wherever possible. This is a great opportunity to
- Show the product in action.
- Introduce sales staff and thought leaders to a new customer.
Use reviews and educational resources.Your online store is the key to driving that in-store experience as well. More than 87% of product research begins online. Today’s consumers want to know just enough about a product to get to the store to test drive it. So, give them the tools to do just that!
Useful resources to add to your store.Add charts, calculators, chat, and display product reviews for them. This information doesn’t replace an in-person experience; these tools are integral pieces in the overall shopper journey that support and complement the information a customer might receive from a floor clerk. Adding tools supports a sale, whether it occurs in-store or online.
Create font, image & color consistency.If a person hasn’t visited your brick-and-mortar store yet, your online environment is a glimpse of what they can expect in person and an introduction to your brand’s value proposition. Just as simplicity is key to navigating merchandise options, visual consistency is crucial in all areas of your page design.
Make it all align.Make sure your online store’s fonts, colors, and logos align with in-store displays and signage. With this synergy, your new customers are more likely to recognize your brand outside of the store as well. Think of Apple computers. The company prominently displays its logo in online and in-store settings, but customers can also expect consistent gray product images, clean black fonts, and white backgrounds across both channels.
Don’t forget to cross-sell and upsell.Suggest other products at check-out. In-store point-of-purchase displays are a cross-merchandising, brand-building opportunity to boost sales and further customer engagement.
What would they buy in real life?Be tactful and logical online. If the batteries are offered near the remote-control toy in the store, they should be pitched at check-out online as well.
Mirror online and in-store checkout experiences.The gold standard for the online check-out experience is really quite simple: keep it as frictionless as possible. The same goes for the in-store experience. In fact, online checkouts have become so efficient in e-commerce that about 55% percent of in-store customers still prefer self-checkout.
Make the checkout experience seamless.If your customers appreciate a clutter-free checkout that’s not bombarding them with messages and questions, don’t pepper them with multiple screens at checkout online. Think of each in-person question as a screen online. Gauge how many questions or prompts flow well and at what point the experience bogs down. If your in-store checkout is smooth, your online experience should be similar.
Plan online and offline together.Targeted and aligned marketing and sales planning creates brand consistency and positive customer experiences online and inside the store.
People are willing to visit in-store too!Remember, today’s buyers are very likely to open to visiting your brick-and-mortar store. They start online first. Ensure your digital marketing team, designers, data analysts, and in-store sales teams are in constant communication.
Get customer feedback as often as possible. Allow customers to talk about their online and in-store journeys. Ask them what they liked most about the online and brick-and-mortar experiences. What would keep them coming back? And, of course, what do they think either of the experiences still lacks? We don’t need to replicate the brick-and-mortar experience online. The goal is to make for a seamless experience where the two work together to support a positive shopper journey and, ultimately, build brand loyalty.
Ray Ko is the Senior Ecommerce Manager at ShopPOPDisplays. With years of experience in the retail space, Ray is an expert in formulating and implementing e-commerce strategies to increase revenue.