According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, E-commerce has grown 18.4% year over year in the second quarter of 2013. Online sales are booming with what seems like an endless growth opportunity in the near future. This is great news for companies such as Amazon who solely operate as an “E-tailer” but presents a challenge for local economies supplemented by mom and pop shops. Price matching is impossible, but there are 4 key methods of gaining an edge over e-tailers and beating them to your customer’s wallet:
1. Turn your store front into a destination location.
Visually stimulating and memorable store fronts are the best way to increase walk-in sales and creates a shopping experience which goes well beyond whatever a website can deliver. Neon lights and dusty folding signs are dead 1970′s tactics and no longer stimulate the customers mind when passing by. Your best bet in remodeling your store front are large 3D versions of your store’s basic product mounted on the facade with contrasting colors and a fun and spunky feel to its design. It doesn’t matter if you’re remembered for your quirky and absurdly large tennis shoe or oversized old school 78 vinyl record sticking out the side of your building because customers want to be shopping at your store for the experience you’re giving them.
2. Offer customized versions of your product.
If your overhead costs are high and you are having to pass on these expenses to your customers it becomes difficult to sell at marked-up prices compared to your local or internet competitors. Assuming you can’t change to cost-effective suppliers from an existing contract in place or there is no one cheaper on the market for you to switch to, it may be time to offer customized versions of your products to upgrade your product line above your competitors and validate your prices with customers. Customized colors, text and designs on what are normally plain products spices up your product mix and elevates quality perceived by consumers.
3. New customer referral program.
Your business needs a boost and traditional marketing techniques aren’t delivering the results you expected. It’s time to take on word of mouth marketing and give your loyal customers a chance to benefit by working for you. Implementing a new customer referral program with enticing benefits such as order discounts and exclusive product lines for “members” encourages group shopping amongst friends and can increase your business daily foot traffic. Consider offering a 1 month new member discount active from the time of sign up. This keeps your new customers walking through the door to shop and converting them to loyal customers for the life of your business. Your shopping community will grow right along with your revenue!
4. Create pop-up stores at local markets and high traffic areas.
If people can’t easily access your store you’re not making sales. A new trend in marketing your business is also a great way to make sales on the spot. Pop-up stores allow choice of location (providing you don’t need a permit to sell in the area) and can bring your most desirable products to new customers hopefully converting them to repeat shoppers in the future. Considered a drastic measure by some business owners, success can be achieved by chartering a mobile version of your current brick and mortar location. Once you have crafted your new pop-up shop you will be in need of taking payments anywhere you set-up. Cube’s 2.5% per swipe plan offers a great price on mobile credit card processing (that’s just 25 cents on a $10 sale you wouldn’t normally get) and is available for all major credit cards (VISA, Mastercard, AMEX, Discover). Sign-up is free and you’ll be thanking yourself after you get your first sales report.