At a recent visit to a local home ware store, looking for bed linen for one or our boys, I overheard a comment by another customer…

” Do you see the package sheets on the wall? I took a look, and yes indeed, the walls were covered in pigeon holes crammed full with beautiful linen.

The customer then added, “Now take a closer look on that bed set displayed on the showroom floor, any of the bed sets, displayed on there would surely sell ten times than even anything on the wall”.

Indeed, that was a remarkable retail paradox! The floor is spacious and limited, but research tell us retail customers buy more product when it is boldly displayed.

At present, global retailers have a great chance to boost the experiences needed to stay ahead of demanding shoppers. The advent of technology has paved the way to refine more customisation when it comes to different aspects such as delivery, product choice, number of retail channels and return policies.

In years gone by, there was the great divide between online shopping and a bricks and mortar business, research shows that two-thirds of customers use a digital device before going shopping, and nearly a third, whilst they hit the retail stores.

In addition, Deloittes research has shown 47% or customers will compare products on their device and 42% will access product information.

Many retailers fear this change and struggle with how to use this information in their businesses, the end to end journey of the retail process is in the experience, in the complimentary digital services and information available to ensure the success of the store in the future.

Whether a product or service, it doesn’t matter. Small business owners must listen up, learn and develop a strong presence on online.

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Thanks to the digital screen, the future is brighter than ever, if you know how.

The United States leads the way.

According to Statista, there were about 191.1 million U.S.  online shoppers who had browsed different products, made product comparisons, and purchased merchandise online at least once in 2013. It is believed that these figures are predicted to get to 215.1 million by 2018.

Generally, Australia is only a couple of years behind, time to get stuck into digital.

Why go digital?

Going digital is an infinitely changeable means to address different long-standing issues especially for small business owners.

In actual fact, it gives the small business owner a chance to really reimagine the customer experience, as it presents a shift in the whole way handle customer relationships. As the world of marketing embraces interactivity, brands and incessant messaging brings the retail setting into the digital channels.

Case Study

Party Supplies Perth is an Australian small business that is engaged into party supplies. After making the decision to invest in digital, the business decided to pivot into online retail. Since then, the business has experienced a very significant growth across different online stats and metrics.

Now, what caused this dramatic success? Is it obvious?  Let’s dig deeper.

Going digital

Party Supplies Perth were challenged in the way they wanted to handle the ever-changing needs and the starting point was having a new website. The retailer relied on a digital ecommerce platform with maximized versatility, customisation and feature-rich services. Notwithstanding competition and past hard days, the business optimised content across their online powerhouse. This included blogs and focusing on key dates like birthday party and graduation days.

A focus on the end to end experience of their customers, the same experience perceived in their face-to-face store.

Customer conversion

Thanks to the digital boost with a clear strategy, the business has seen a significant increase in web traffic. Within a year, the retailer experienced 50% increase in their unique visitors. The best thing here is that customer conversion was also high. The impressive doubling of conversion rate is obviously attributed to the web rebuild.

The key here is the conversion from someone looking around, to making a purchase.

Attracting the right kind of buyer, taking them through a unique experience, followed by a rock solid sales conversion process.

User time

The user time has also increased by up to 27.6 percent. Meaning, the business also succeeded in its objective to have users spend more time in browsing their portfolios and look into the products they offer.

Product enquiries and sales

Improved traffic volume + increased conversion rate = higher ROI.

The number of party supply sales has impressively rocketed with a total increase of 317.45%.

I would take it that all business owners would love that kind of business growth.

Verdict

This case study reflects the sheer impact of digital investment for online retailers. As a small business owner, your ultimate goal should be to improve ultimate customer experience and generate an awesome return on investment.

Use your Smartphone…as in be mobile friendly on all your social media and digital platforms.

More and more shoppers have their Smartphones to browse and navigate desired products. They’ve got a handy INSTANT tool to make their research regarding location, the ability to check the price, look into the availability, and choose from well-diversified colors and a whole lot more.

 

The

Are there challenges?

Shoppers are used to wandering through retail stores, while their eyes glued to their Smartphone, looking up whatever it is they want to know prices, brands and choices INSTANTLY.

Digital investment

A great place to start here is life-sized apps that are meant to integrate interaction of personal devices and connectivity with a powerful physical small business appeal. Shoppers who are fascinated with their smartphones and tablets can seamlessly interact with high-end digital displays. This is the breakthrough that drives the earlier pre-Paid installations in which a special feature called “attract mode” is being used to provide users an access to the touchscreen environment.

New Skills

While it is true that the credits beyond online retailers’ success go to the digital screen, learning new skills is essential.

Easy to say, not as easy to implement.

A lot of small business owners spend a lot of time thinking of strategies to connect to customers.

There is an absolute art in uniquely attracting the right customer to your business, you may have heard the term lead generation to describe this.

The MOST important point here is knowing who your ideal client is.

It’s the skill of understanding how to effectively connect with customers through their own preference, and not through your own desired approach.

This is where product management steps in. It is crucial to gain a sensitive understanding how to market your business in the midst of the digital world.

However, I still see many scenes where old-school marketing is applied, like getting people into your store using TV campaigns, radio, print advertising, all of which are still valuable if used properly.

Like any new skill, it is worth the pain and headaches to really dig deep and get to know how to engage through social networks, what to post, when to post, and how to build a relationship online with your potential customers.

Know where they hang out online, know what platforms they use.  It is better to be on a few social channels and do it well, rather than beat your head against a wall, trying to manage them all…badly.

 

Please take note!

Just because a new trend, or platform emerges does not mean implementing a strategy just for it sake of it.

When I am on the verge of deciding whether or not to invest into something, here are key questions that ask:

Can I implement strategies that can boost user experience?

Can I offer products and services with relevant value to my customers?

Can I reach my end goals through my platforms?

With that said, the single most important point is whether the social chanoriginal-where_there_is_an_open_mind__there_will_always_be_a_frontiernel offers advertising.

Those that do are the ones to work on, develop and grow.

Take periscope….here one day, gone the next.

Facebook’s live streaming now holding first place in this space.

If you want to adopt something that is new, the best way to pull off is to ask your customers.

The key here is, it is to maintain a consistent personalized approach of two way communication.

By doing so, you’ll get to know what works and what doesn’t.

Keep in mind that making assumptions is risky and can lead you to the losing out in the end, time is money!

Let’s just see that what’s the next wave in technology and shopping will bring us.

Break through the technology barrier, learn on a need to know basis, rather than trying to do it all at once.