Retail Success Strategy: Ecommerce Enabled Brick and Mortar

The lines are blurring between virtual stores and brick and mortar retailers as more e-tailers transition to the physical world to give customers the ability to touch, taste and try before actually buying goods. At the same time, many physical stores are expanding their reach and offering another channel to shoppers by selling products online. This two-way evolution is bringing about a new type of retailing that offers “buy online and pick up in store,” which allows buyers to enjoy the valuable promotions and convenience of online shopping with the reliability of picking up their products from a physical store.

Synergies working in this click-to-brick model are:

Synergies Working in Click to Brick Model

Here are four tips to get benefits of both approaches.

1. Use the website as a sales tool:

The first step to achieve virtual and physical synergies is to have a website that represents your brand effectively and is in sync with your physical sores.

Apart from providing store locations, hours and directions, businesses benefit by sharing services and features like:

  • Coupons or gift certificates redeemable in stores
  • Information on retail outlet events or specials
  • Ability to make appointments or reservations for service in the retail outlets
  • Return of items purchased online at retail outlets
  • Links to other businesses in the area where retail outlets are located
  • Pick-up of online purchases at stores

Auto Dealer website

These capabilities allow retailers to support and develop the traditional physical arm of the business.

2. Become masters of content:

Unlike brick and mortar stores where the products and the intelligent use of space do most of the work to convince buyers, online stores lure customers by using content. This includes words describing your products, descriptions of promotions and pictures that leave nothing to imagination. Content has many forms and it can even replace salespeople if used effectively. Some superb examples of content used intelligently by retailers include:

Retro e-boutique ModCloth appeals to buyers with product descriptions that play with words. Their descriptions are fun and clever while telling the story of what people will do while wearing their clothes.

product descriptions on ModCloth

Companies can use blogging and social media to market in a style that’s applicable, honest and personable—therefore very appealing to the audience. Online content is connected and can be weaved in different ways to meet the demands of both the medium and the end consumers. For example, you can start with a blog post. Combine this content with a list of how-to suggestions along with some industry facts and share them as an e-book with your sales database. If you use the same information to explain how a customer got favorable results, you can publish a case study and even share in the form of a video interview or podcast.

River Pools and Spas was hit hard by the recession in 2008. The owners saved their business by getting creative and today their website gets more traffic than any other pool company in the world. They follow the simple philosophy of answering customers’ questions through blog posts, aiming to make their site the most educational and informative swimming pool website on the Internet.

River Pools content marketing

3. Allow customers to check out the latest offers while in store:

Marketing through mobile is another form of promotion where customers in store are targeted and they use their phones instead of their eyes to look up interesting deals and offers. The combination of presence and promotions increase the likelihood of purchases many times over.


Even if sales don’t happen at those moments, the technology help check and address showrooming, where shoppers check stuff out in physical stores and later buy online. Although it is typically seen as a threat to retailers, this kind of mobile targeting could drive showroomers to purchase through retailers’ e-commerce platforms rather than from competitive e-tailers.

4. Send out messages to win customer loyalty:

Another vital element of success today is investing time, money and effort to maintain active databases of loyal customers, potential spenders and buyers who prefer competitors. Once you’ve managed to get customers in your store or on your website, why let them leave without offering a way to stay in contact? You can collect their email addresses by:

  • Asking for it at checkout
  • Having a sign-up sheet on your sales counter
  • Placing a basket or bowl where they can drop in their email address
  • Posting a QR code linking to your web form where customers with smart phones can sign up immediately
  • Highlighting the email sign-up tab on your website homepage

Once you have their email details, send out custom e-mail messages that offer one of the following:

  • Share valuable deals and special offers with your loyal customers that make them feel special
  • Spell out benefits like the best product quality, service of highest standards and unbeatable prices to potential buyers
  • Offer best-in-market bargains and special trial offers to competitors’ customers

Email Deals

People are typically most interested right after they first subscribe, so have an auto-generated confirmation message prepared in advance that outlines the types of emails they can expect, along with a friendly welcome message thanking customers for their business. Continue reaching out at regular intervals with offers segmented for each group.

All the channels matter—in store, online and mobile—but their power is in how they can work together.

Do you think this is the right approach for your business? How do you make these three channels work together for you?

About Kriti Adlakha
I have been working in the field of marketing and brand development for more than eight years. My experience ranges from hospitality to media and IT products to outsourced services. During my journey, I have worked with print and new-age media and have enjoyed developing content. I have also learnt and worked on marketing tools like adwords marketing, analytics, CRM and the list is steadily growing. Having acquired post-graduate diploma in business management from IIM, Calcutta, I love new challenges and learn from each experience. In my blog, I share marketing strategies that enable small and medium businesses to market in a small budget. I also discuss how to use different online tools that can help businesses to monitor returns of their marketing investments. Above all, I love to hear back from my readers!

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