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Tips for Running a Brick-and-Mortar Business: Innovative Tactics to Keep Your Physical Business Relevant In a Digital World

6/29/2021 (Permalink)

storefront of a brick-and-mortar business with door sign reading yes we are open Brick-and-mortar businesses face hardship in the digital age, yet offer unique value to consumers that keep physical stores alive in today's economy.

The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a turning point for e-commerce with unprecedented growth when consumers and businesses largely went digital to meet changing social dynamics. However, the rise of e-commerce does not necessarily mean the end of brick-and-mortar, as consumers still have shopping preferences that they prefer to do in-person. 

Brick-and-mortar businesses have the opportunity to meet consumer desires but need to adopt tactics to meet modern consumer behavior and capitalize on the 65% of American shopping budgets that are still spent in-store. This article outlines essential strategies and tips that can assist brick-and-mortar companies that are looking to stay relevant to consumers in an increasingly digital world.

Create a Digital Presence

Even if the main focus of your business is your brick-and-mortar presence, physical retailers need to integrate both an on and offline presence. Your primary directive may be in-person sales, but your businesses still need to be visible and available online. 

Having a strong digital presence can provide deep insights into your customer preferences with the wide variety of digital analytics that can be gathered through online channels, social media, your websites, and even an email marketing campaign. An essential checklist for creating a digital presence includes:

  • Optimizing your website for visibility and mobile use.
  • Creating an active social media strategy and producing content for all online channels that encourages consumer engagement.
  • Designing a newsletter and email marketing campaign that provides additional value and insight into your products and business operations.

Step Up Your Customer Service Game

One of the greatest benefits to consumers who shop in physical stores is great face-to-face customer service, and the opportunity to build a shopping experience that your consumers are sure to remember. To capitalize on the valuable resource of customer experience, businesses need to refocus on customer service strategies that deliver and meet consumer expectations. This includes:

  • Maintaining a safe and clean environment.
  • Adopting new transaction and checkout processes that accommodate touchless interactions and digital payment options.
  • Providing added value through sales and coupons that compel customers to make purchases.
  • Designing personalized shopping experiences that are curated to their target audience. Examples of his may include:
    • Allowing customers to make in-store purchases but shipping the product to their residence. 
    • Providing superb customer engagement with friendly, highly knowledgeable, and trained staff.
    • Ensuring that the store is organized, comfortable, and easy to navigate.
    • Providing digital options for customers to provide feedback.
    • Creating easy-to-use return policies and customer service channels for questions and concerns about products.

Stay Current With Industry Trends

Staying up to date on industry trends can give your business insight into what your consumer preferences are, as well as what your competitors are doing to outperform you. Competitor analysis can provide deep insight into how your consumers react to changes being made and can be used to leverage critical decisions that impact how your consumers perceive, engage with, and make purchases from your business. 

Harnessing the use of big data as a resource can also support smart decision-making. Data can provide insight into your target market and beyond, opening up opportunities to find and define consumer demographics and dynamics. Data can be gathered from your online presence and website, social channels, competitive research, and more, and can be leveraged to critically think about your consumers, develop and test strategies, and support critical decision making. 

Take Pride In Your Store’s Appearance

One of the hallmark values of in-store shopping is the experience the consumer has within your store. Cleanliness is a top priority for customers, it is essential to keep your brick-and-mortar in safe and clean good repair. This may include: 

  • Creating a checklist for the most common places that need cleaning and setting a schedule to ensure that these areas are regularly maintained. This includes restrooms and high-touch surfaces such as door handles and check-out areas. 
  • Ensuring that the building itself is in good repair. This may include:
    • Replacing HVAC air filters and cleaning ducts.
    • Upkeep plumbing, mold remediation, and water damage repair from leaks.
    • Replacing burned-out interior and exterior light bulbs.
    • Inspect the property for signs of rodent or pest damage.
    • Replacing cracked or broken windows or mirrors and keeping them clean.
  • Having a safety and sanitation plan for recovering from unfortunate events or natural disasters. This may include using commercial services for fire restoration or storm damage and cleanup.

In addition to the essentials of cleanliness and safety, brick-and-mortar businesses may also consider how to arrange their store to best accommodate the consumer’s needs. Examples may include:

  • Comfortable sitting, waiting, and congregating areas outside of dressing rooms, or for customers that may need to wait while a product is being prepared.
  • Highly trained staff and information desks that can assist consumers with essential questions about products and services.
  • Open display areas where customers can engage with products and easily learn about them. 
  • Added value through expert advice or classes with a representative of the company.

A store’s atmosphere and layout will also impact consumer buying patterns. The aesthetics and design of your store are essential to the customer’s experience. The aesthetic and signage of your brick-and-mortar location should showcase your brand and image, and needs to be easy to navigate so consumers can efficiently find what they need.

Host In-Store Events

According to a survey on event marketing, 91% of overperforming businesses place great emphasis on live events as a form of marketing, and 87% of C-suite executives are leaning into and planning to invest in events in the future. Events are a cornerstone in experiential marketing that is defining the future of brick-and-mortar retail. 

In-store events directly engage customers and can create valuable memories, insight into offerings, and brand experiences. Events are an excellent way to showcase a new product or rollout, create social media buzz, and provide consumers what they are looking for most: a great experience.

Events may include launch parties, holiday and milestone celebrations, sales and coupon offerings, meet-up groups, classes, and workshops. Creating a great in-store event is more than putting out party tables and decor — it should have a specific focus and goal that creates value for the customer. 

Create a Customer Loyalty Program

A survey conducted on consumer mindsets and customer loyalty showed that:

  • 51% of respondents enjoyed loyalty programs and noted that loyalty programs encouraged them to “like” the brand or company more.
  • 49% of respondents felt they get significant value from loyalty programs.
  • 46% of loyalty programs make the respondents feel like an exclusive group of valuable customers.
  • 40% of respondents noted that loyalty programs were a key decision-maker for them to choose that specific retailer or brand.

Customer loyalty programs can be a great addition to a brand’s digital presence through the use of apps, email marketing, and providing a great experience. Creating a valuable loyalty program should incorporate the use of consumer data to ensure the program delivers the greatest value and can be utilized in tandem with other digital and in-store event marketing efforts.

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