Did you know that 90% off all commerce still happens offline? Despite what you hear in the media and other outlets, brick and mortar sales make up the vast majority of all commerce. While eCommerce sales are growing at an all-time high, they are only gaining market share at about 1% year-over-year. In fact, retail sales aren’t necessarily declining at all. According to the 2018 US Census Report, offline sales reached a record breaking 6 trillion dollars last year.
Even though consumers are becoming more demanding than ever, retail store visits will always be a major part of our everyday lives. After all, you probably wouldn’t trust buying an engagement ring off the Internet or having your automobile serviced remotely.
The reality is, retail is alive and well and will continue to thrive for many years to come. We believe retailers need to have a fundamental shift in how they do business in order to better cater to the consumer experience. As a society, people will always seek out new experiences and they want compelling reasons to visit your storefront.
Here are some examples of how retailers could change their experience to compete with their online counterparts:
- THREAT: Car Dealerships are facing serious threats from online dealers like Carvana. Carvana’s business model wants to make financing simple and affordable for consumers. They conveniently drop your new vehicle off right to your driveway. If you don’t like the vehicle, you can return it within 7 days for free.
RESPONSE: Car Dealerships could make the test drive more exhilarating by offering a race track experience. Imagine if you could test drive your next vehicle while feeling like you’re at the Indy 500. Sound too farfetched? Apparently I wasn’t the first to think of it: https://jalopnik.com/world-s-largest-car-dealership-has-rooftop-racetrack-5544873
- THREAT: Online ordering companies want to charge restaurants 30% to have their food delivered to their customers while sacrificing their customer relationships and data
RESPONSE: Provide customers more reasons to actually visit your restaurant. Live Music, Golf Simulator, Bar Games, Private Events, VIP Programs, Wine Tastings, Art Displays, Private Cooking Lessons, Yoga Sessions, etc.
- THREAT: Netflix is going after the movie theatre dollar by providing a better customer experience through big data. They are better able to cater to their customers preferences despite having never met them before.
RESPONSE: Movie theatres need to stop selling their customer data to 3rd party booking sites like Fandango. If they provided their own bookings and kept their consumer data, they could tailor to their customers movie preferences by combining in-store payment data and ticket stub data. The heated seats and food servers are certainly a step in the right direction as well.
While people are certainly willing to pay more for a better experience, retail store owners can’t seem to solve the REAL Reason eCommerce is beating Brick & Mortar. Digital marketing tools like cookies and pixels used to track customer behaviors have been giving online businesses a major competitive advantage for years now. It allows them to operate efficiently by understanding their key business metrics like customer acquisition cost (CAC), conversion rates, and lifetime value of customers (LTV).
In comparison, you would be very hard pressed to find a retail store owner who could tell you their customer acquisition cost or their average cost per click (CPC). If you don’t know what it cost to gain a customer, odds are you don’t have a clue where to spend your marketing dollars. This is a major problem.
Retail store owners need to start getting laser focused on capturing their in-store data and utilizing it to become competitive. Here’s specifically what I am talking about:
- Credit card data: First Name, Last Name, Transaction Amount, Transaction Date, Zip Code
- Point of Sale Data: Email, Phone, Purchase Items and SKU’s
In store purchase data is the secret weapon for retailers wanting to measure their marketing success. Digital marketing platforms allow you to use your customer’s emails and phone numbers to create audiences on social networks like Facebook and Instagram. Additionally, you can use that same in-store data to seek out new customers using Lookalike Audiences. If you upload your in-store purchase data to social platforms, you can actually track your offline events to show your marketing return on investment (ROI).
Having the right tools and technology can make it simple to understand which customers are interacting with your online ads and then making in-store purchases. Retail store owners historically are just shooting from the hip when it comes to their marketing. Millions of dollars are being wasted every year from brick and mortar stores guessing their way to success. Meanwhile, their eCommerce competitors are acquiring 100% of their customers using these same platforms.
Marketing is extremely important to maintaining a healthy business. Retailers can’t ignore using data forever. If they do, they may just lose the battle once and for all. We are hopeful the offline world will starting relying on data to measure their marketing and to provide an enhanced customer experience. For now, we can only be an advocate for these businesses and we are certainly rooting for them to embrace technology and start making data-driven decisions.
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