Online competitors can be a difficult hurdle for many brick and mortar stores, but we can all agree that the internet isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. So people are starting to fight back, to try and compete with online stores. It’s tough, they often don’t have the overhead costs of a physical store. They can afford smaller margins, and therefore, lower prices.
So how can we compete? Many stores try and draw the keyboard shoppers in with huge discounts and sales. And that may well get them in and buying. But you’re cutting profits dramatically for a minimum increase in sales.
How else can we compete if not by price-matching online stores for the cent-counting customers?
Customer experience is the one of the strongest points of differentiation between online and brick and mortar stores. The experience of being in your store needs to be exceptional. From the first interaction, to the view of the store in the customers’ rear view mirror. You need to create something different. Standing out is a huge advantage. Every interaction with your store, your salespeople, and your brand, needs to be exceptional. Whether that’s physical appearance, quality of service, or even following up in a timely fashion. A plan needs to be in place that covers all the touchpoints your customers will go through, and everyone in your team needs to know the expectations. (Click here to see our explanation of basic retail touchpoints).
Make sure your entire sales team can see your vision of how the customer experience should be. Train them up and do everything you can to keep yourself in the customers’ memory.
- Value Selling
I love Value Selling. It is one of the easiest ways to turn an online shopper into a physical customer when they’re in your store. I hear it all the time in my role; “I can get this for $$$ on eBay!”
This kind of comment is going to be more and more popular. A lot of sales people approach it the wrong way. Trying to price match to get the sale, or throwing in extras. When in reality, often all that needs to happen, is the customer needs to understand the benefit (or value) to them if they buy it off you. Pointing out things such as warranty, quality guarantees, being able to touch/feel/try out the product before purchasing. Explaining the “Good, Better, Best” principle and asking where the online product fits into it, (they’re often inferior quality), are all things to bring to your customers’ attention. For example; “Great! Does it come with a warranty?” “Where do you take it if there’s an issue?” and although not really value selling, some other great thoughts to put in their head include “How much is shipping?” “Do you need it now or can you afford to wait?”
Putting things such as these in perspective will often bring the customer around to the idea of purchasing it off you.
- Shifting out of ‘Sales mode’
A lot of people, if they are in your store, yet plan to shop online anyway, aren’t sure what they’re after. This is where you and your sales team need to ensure you have a great service experience. Genuinely helping the customer and talking through what product would solve their problem, with their needs at the front of mind (see our post on the Preeminence Strategy), will go a long way. Even if they intend to buy online. Shifting the customers’ perspective of you from Salesperson, to Trusted Advisor, when you help them, build trust, and advise them on the best products for them, takes away the stigma of you ‘just trying to push a sale’ on them. They’ll start to trust you, once you have that trust and have built rapport with them, they’re far more likely to purchase the product off you. People buy when they trust.
- Add ons
You’ll never get rid of online competitors, they’re here to stay. However, if you have a loyal customer base (which you should if you and your team are building customer relationships), you’ll have people that come in regularly. How do you utilise this to fight back against online? By growing your basket size. It’s a commonly accepted fact that it costs a lot more to get new customers than it does to maintain your relationship and reputation with existing ones. So, increasing your basket size on sales you’re already getting is the easiest way to boost your profits. I love the saying “You won’t get a sale you don’t ask for” as it’s true, if you don’t point out things that could enhance what the customer is already purchasing, or is even just a great deal, the customer probably won’t think of it. Practice asking. Never put through a sale without asking for an add on. The worst that can happen is they’ll say no.
The best? You increase your sales and profits with minimal work.