Easter is right around the corner and after a year of COVID-19 related restrictions and lockdowns, shoppers are looking forward to celebrating safely with their friends and family. As a result, retail owners can expect to see an increase in sales.
Considering factors such as positive trends in vaccinations, new stimulus funds, as well as growing consumer confidence, the NRF’s annual Easter survey indicates that there is a lot of momentum going into the Spring. This momentum is reflected in consumer spending as 79% of shoppers are expected to celebrate, spending an average of $179.70.
Below, we’ve prepared some tips to help you gear up for the Easter holiday weekend and make the most of this year’s consumer spending habits.
To tempt more shoppers to buy from your store, consider discounting your best selling items. You can even set up a dedicated landing page or section on your website/e-commerce site so shoppers can easily browse through sale or seasonal items.
For example, Mastermind Toys set up an Easter landing page encouraging consumers to shop their Easter merchandise.
2. Reposition Your Products for Easter
Don’t sell chocolate or Easter related products? That’s ok – you don’t have to sell Easter merchandise to benefit from the holiday.
You can always position your products for Easter by finding a unique angle. For example, The Body Shop encouraged customers to celebrate the holiday by treating their loved ones and themselves with their nature inspired products.
Bath and Body Works did something similar with their slogan “Gifts For Every Bunny (And Basket)”.
3. Launch Retargeting Campaigns
It may be a good idea to attract old visitors back to your website with Easter offers and promotions. You can do so with Facebook retargeting ads.
By setting up your Facebook pixel on your website or ecommerce store, you can present different offers based on shoppers’ interaction with your site. The idea is to retarget past users based on their buying intent (e.g. visitors who added to their cart vs shoppers that initiated checkout).
If you are using TAKU eCommerce, click here to find out how to set up your Facebook pixel on your ecommerce site.
4. Promote Popular Fulfillment Options
While pandemic related restrictions and lockdowns are easing in some regions, many consumers still prefer popular fulfillment options such as buy online pick-up in-store (BOPIS), local delivery, and shipping.
You can encourage shoppers to purchase their Easter gifts safely by highlighting some of these fulfillment options on your website. For example, Indigo’s home page calls attention to the fact that shoppers can purchase their Easter items safely with a BOPIS option.
5. Launch a Giveaway on Social Media
An Easter giveaway on social media can be done with little effort and a minimal budget. For instance, you could do a classic giveaway by asking participants to tag a loved one in the comments.
Or you could do something directly related to Easter by asking your followers to guess how many Easter eggs are in a basket. Alternatively, you can apply this concept to one of your products (e.g. making followers guess the weight of chocolate, the amount of beads in a necklace etc.).
Consider boosting your social media giveaway to widen your reach and increase the number of participants.
Once you have successfully built your digital storefront and your physical store and products can be found online, the next step will be taking payment for orders online. This is when you will want to focus your efforts on setting up your e-commerce site.
In this blog post, we’ll go over how you can quickly set up your online product catalog for customers to see on your website and to order from.
The importance of selling online post-COVID-19
Brick and mortar retailers who are looking to sell online usually face the same set of challenges including missing product descriptions and images, incorrectly setup products or a lack of funds, resources, or skills to manage an e-commerce store.
While these challenges often prevent traditional retailers from setting up an online store, the opportunities you miss by only selling in-store and not investing in an e-commerce site are far greater. As an increasing number of consumers shop online post-COVID-19, failing to provide an online checkout experience means you are missing out on potential customers and sales
The good news is, modern day e-commerce providers have made it easy to set up an online store as they simply re-use your existing POS products. In fact, retail platforms such as TAKU eCommerce are even able to enhance product data to make your product details more e-commerce ready and more searchable on Google. By re-using existing product details, merchants using TAKU, for example, have the ability to showcase their products and take payments online in just a few steps.
To show you what this looks like, we’ll take you through the step-by-step process of re-using your existing product catalog with TAKU eCommerce so you can quickly start taking payments online.
How to Start Selling Online with TAKU eCommerce
Many traditional retailers become discouraged at the thought of setting up an online store. However, depending on the platform, it is actually quite simple to get started.
Let’s see an example of how this works with TAKU eCommerce:
1. Decide where to add your shopping cart
As long as you are using TAKU, you have two options to quickly start selling online:
Automatically create an instant store which is a clean, easy-to-use, single page webstore that works in every screen size. This option is usually best for retailers who don’t have an existing website, need to replace an older looking site or want to just add a new Shop option linked to their store products.
Or alternatively, if you already have a WordPress informational website, you can add the TAKU eCommerce shopping cart as a WordPress plugin. This option is super fast and preferred for retailers that want their online store to automatically match the style of their existing WordPress site.
2. Add your products
Adding your products to your online store in TAKU is as easy as enabling them with a few clicks. But even if your product details are not complete (e.g. your products are very unique or require custom product descriptions or images) traditional brick and mortar retailers should not be held back from launching their online store. In fact, retailers should expect to launch an e-commerce site without their full product catalog in the beginning. As long as a retailer has, for example, 100 products with images and descriptions, she or he can still launch and add new products overtime, eventually building their full online product catalog. In comparison to a physical store, it’s perfectly reasonable to launch with several hundred products and add new ones every day. In fact, highlighting that “NEW items are being added daily” on your homepage is a great way to keep customers coming back.
3. Add Business Information
In general settings, make sure that your business information such as your store name, store address, phone number, work email address, currency, and language are all correct. With TAKU, some of this information is automatically available but you may want to customize it for your online store. For example, you may want to use your trade name vs. your legal business name.
4. Legal Information
5. Customize the look of your store
You can use any of the existing themes as they are or easily personalize your online store using the built-in options. Remember that TAKU eCommerce web stores are built to be completely mobile responsive so you don’t need to worry about how things will look on different screens – they will always look good on any screen size.
6. Check your web address
Every TAKU eCommerce store comes with a free web address in the form of “yourstore12345.company.site”. You can either use this free URL address, buy a new domain from a third party provider, or connect an existing domain that you already own.
7. Enable payments
TAKU eCommerce supports a variety of payment providers meaning that merchants can choose or setup the payment methods that best suit their business needs. This also gives merchants more freedom to negotiate with providers and lower payment processing fees/costs. While we always encourage retailers to take payment online to minimize the risk of losing the sale or shoppers not picking up products, with TAKU eCommerce, you can even include an option for Pay in Store. If this is your preference, you can complete the payment with TAKU when shoppers arrive in the store.
Once the steps above are complete, you’re ready to start selling online!
We hope you are now comfortable with the general steps involved when setting up an online store. In the next two blog posts and videos, we will discuss how you can add fulfillment methods such as contactless curbside pickup and local delivery.
The next step to building your digital storefront is to showcase your products online.
With the flexibility and accessibility of online tools, even if your brick and mortar store is closed, you’ll still be able to serve your customers. The best part is, these tools are easily accessible to retailers who are not selling online through an e-commerce website. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can list your products online.
1. Upload your products to Google
The COVID-19 pandemic has made shoppers limit their trips to physical retail stores. As a result, they are now checking in-store stock availability before visiting.
To make things easier for your customers, it’s a good idea to make real-time inventory data available on Google. This can be done manually or you can do so easily by using an integrated retail software such as TAKU Retail.
TAKU’s integration with Google also allows merchants to display their products through Google “See What’s In-Store” (SWIS). With SWIS, product catalogs appear under a merchant’s Google My Business listing. This feature helps retailers attract nearby shoppers by showcasing in-store products with real-time stock updates. The best part is – there is no data entry required when uploading products to Google with an integrated solution since your existing POS data is simply re-used.
2. Free and paid Google Products Listings
Once you’ve uploaded your products to Google and are showcasing your products through SWIS, you also have the option of using Google Product listings to further increase your online visibility to local shoppers.
What are Google Product Listings?
Google Product Listings, otherwise known as Google Shopping campaigns, help retailers put their products in front of shoppers who are looking for what they sell. Retailers can use Google Product Listings to promote their in-store products and boost traffic to their brick and mortar stores.
Below is an example of a Google Product Listing:
These listings showcase your products and store information to nearby shoppers who are searching on Google. Since they appear based on what local shoppers are searching for, Google Product listings attract high value shoppers. In other words, they showcase the right products to the right people in the moments that matter the most.
When shoppers click on a listing, they will land on a Google-hosted page for your store which displays your in-store inventory, store hours, directions, and more.
Google recently announced the launch of free product listings, making it easier for merchants to display their products online. Note: While free listings are only accessible to US merchants, an international rollout is expected by the end of the year. Now, search results in the Google Shopping tab will consist mostly of free listings, helping merchants connect with more shoppers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google.
Which means that even if you are not selling online, you can still showcase your in-stock products to potential customers.
TAKU Retail POS has partnered with Google to make it easier for merchants to get started with Google Product listings. By using TAKU, product feeds are automatically optimized and submitted through your POS. To learn more, click here.
3. Adding your products to social media
Facebook is one of the most popular social media platforms with more than 2.45 billion monthly active users. Now, merchants can give customers an easy way to browse and purchase products with Facebook Shop.
Facebook Shop has expanded a great deal in the last few years and is used in 70 countries by 800 million people monthly, making it the perfect opportunity for retailers to showcase their products to millions of potential customers.
Again, you can upload products manually or with an integrated retail platform such as TAKU eCommerce that will automatically sync your in-store products to Facebook Shop. With an integrated system, your product catalog will sync every 12 hours once you have uploaded your products onto your Facebook page. This will ensure that your product information and stock levels are updated on a regular basis.
Depending on the type of products you sell, Instagram may be another essential platform for retail businesses. With more than 1 billion monthly users, your customers are already on Instagram. So make it easier for them to discover and browse your products with Instagram shopping. Essentially, Instagram Shopping allows merchants to transform their profiles into digital storefronts.
We hope Part 2 was helpful to you. To learn more about the last 3 steps to getting your physical store online, keep an eye out for the rest of our blog and video series.
To learn more about the next steps to getting your physical store online, keep an eye out for the rest of our blog and video series.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new reality for retailers and consumers alike. Now more than ever, consumers are spending their time searching online and browsing the internet. As a result, it has become increasingly important for retailers to move their physical stores online.
But going digital doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it’s very possible to grow your business using the internet without actually selling anything online.
While we always encourage merchants to take orders online, and an e-commerce site can be an effective way to build an online presence, it is not the only way of doing things. Whether or not you have an online store, it will be extremely helpful for you to drive more foot traffic, more sales, and brand awareness using the internet.
So even if you aren’t ready to start selling online tomorrow, you can approach the process step-by-step. The entire 5-step process will be covered in this blog and video series.
Step 1: Be Found Online
Oftentimes, the first place that a customer learns about your business is the internet. Whether they’re searching on Google or discover you through an Instagram ad, your store’s digital storefront allows customers to interact with your business (calls, visits, or purchases etc.) even before they’re in your store.
What is a Digital Storefront?
A digital storefront is everything that a customer can find about your business online, including the following components:
Your Google My Business listing(s) in search results (and if your listings are complete and optimized)
Online customer reviews
Social media profiles
Your website (with or without an e-commerce component)
If your website is optimized for mobile devices (also called mobile responsiveness)
Visual elements of your business including photos and videos
How Your Digital Storefront Impacts your Retail Business
Online and in-store shopping were once seen as separate channels, competing for traffic and sales. But this is no longer the case. In fact, the future of retail relies on the two working together to deliver a seamless and complete customer experience, otherwise known as omnichannel retail.
Even though moving towards omnichannel requires change and investment across a retailer’s business operations (technology, processes, staff etc.), it can be done in a step-by-step process. Below, we’ve outlined the necessary steps that are involved in becoming an omnichannel retailer.
The following are some tools you can use to help your business be found online:
Google My Business
Google My Business (GMB) is a free online listing tool that helps retailers manage how their business appears on both Google Search and Maps. By verifying and optimizing your business listing, you can help local shoppers find you. Retailers can start by adding basic information such as address, phone number, store hours, and website URL. Then add details such as store and product photos, store description, and services etc. It’s also a good idea to get added to other local directory listings such as Yelp, Bing Local, Yahoo, Foursquare etc.
To learn more about Google My Business and the steps you can take to optimize your listing, download our ebook here.
When shoppers search for businesses on the web, online reviews from sites such as Yelp often appear. These customer reviews (if they are positive) can help drive more people to visit your store. On the other hand, negative reviews are likely to drive them away – which is why it’s important to monitor them carefully to maintain a good image.
It’s crucial for retailers to respond to all of their customer reviews – both negative and positive. In fact, even if you receive a negative review, a quick response helps to highlight good customer service to potential customers. To learn more about how to manage online customer reviews, click here.
If you want your retail business to sell more, it’s good to collect more customer reviews. Find out how to get more customer reviews here.
Social media can be a very effective platform for increasing brand awareness and attracting new customers. However, you need to know where your customers are digitally (e.g. which social platforms they hang around) before you can begin using social media to try and attract customers.
For example, if your target audience is an older demographic (50+), you have a better chance at success if you’re using Facebook rather than Instagram.
Retailers are advised to do research and figure out the top social platform(s) that their target demographic spends time on. From there, you can figure out the best practices for marketing on that platform. Remember – it may be tempting to be on every single platform, but by focusing on one, you have a better chance of learning it thoroughly and having success.
Your website has a major impact on how shoppers feel about your retail business. From the design, site speed, and product showcase, your store’s website is often the first impression customers have of your business. Remember – an e-commerce component is not a requirement for having a website. Sure, your customers may want it or expect it (especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 lockdowns) but the purpose of any website is to drive traffic, sales, and awareness. Merchants should not let the fear of e-commerce prevent them from setting up at least an informational website.
The point is, building a website is an incredibly important step in establishing your store’s digital storefront. There are millions of local searches that take place everyday on Google and your business will show up higher in search results if you have a website which will drive more foot traffic to your store. In fact, 88% of people who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a related store within a week. So, do your part by setting up your website and give potential customers a better chance to find you online before your competitors.
A website can also serve as a starting point for you to add new retail tech into your operations. For example, while customers may not be able to purchase directly from your website (if you don’t have e-commerce yet), they can still use it to browse through your merchandise. Or, you can use live chat software to answer customer questions and offer customer service in real-time.
If you would like to learn more about how to easily set up a website for your retail business, click here.
To learn more about the next steps to getting your physical store online, keep an eye out for the rest of our blog and video series.
Whether you sell online or in-store, returns are an inevitable cost in the retail industry. And they can be tricky – they can increase rapidly, aggressively cut into profit margins and cause logistics issues.
According to a recent study, the overall value of returned merchandise in the US during the past year was $309 billion, with online purchases accounting for $41 billion of that total. Now, the COVID-19 pandemic has complicated the issue of returns even more.
While it is an increasing problem, how retailers deal with returns can help differentiate them from competitors, reduce return costs, and even make them more profitable.
Along with higher return rates, the pandemic has exacerbated certain return challenges and created new ones altogether, for example:
Given the challenges associated with returning products to stores, retailers are having to offer extended return windows.
Increased health and safety policies require stores to set aside returned merchandise for 24 hours to reduce COVID-19 transmission. For some retailers, thorough steam cleaning has become a popular sanitation measure.
Retailers must find additional retail space and assign labour costs to their sanitation processes.
Retailers face higher consumer expectations when it comes to the efficiency of the return process and free online returns. However, the pandemic has caused reduced staffing across warehouses, delaying return processes for many stores.
Understaffed stores must find additional resources to restock returned merchandise back on the sales floor.
The overhead associated with receiving and repacking merchandise for resale along with the disposal of unsaleable merchandise is increasingly cutting into profit margins.
The good news is that retailers can take a number of steps to both reduce return rates and make the overall process more efficient and less costly.
How to Reduce the Cost of Returns
1. Clearly communicate your pre-purchasereturn policy
Establishing standard operating procedures for handling returns will make the process more efficient and less costly for your business.
Aclearly communicated return policy will enable you to treat each return the same so you can avoid treating requests on a case by case basis. Processing every return manually can be expensive and overwhelm your staff, ultimately preventing you from scaling your business.
While policies are going to vary depending on the industry and the type of retailer, every policy should include certain elements. To find out more about writing a return policy and the basics you should cover, click here.
Once you have written up your policy, you need to make sure that customers see it before they buy. This means including links to your policy in hard to miss places on your website or e-commerce site, and near checkout tills in your physical stores. Clearly outlining your return policy will help set the right expectations before purchase, reducing hours spent on customer service.
2. Accurate online product information
If you’re selling online, one way to reduce the likelihood of returns is by providing your customers with accurate product information. Depending on the type of merchandise that you sell, this could mean in-depth size guides, diagrams, or photos that clearly showcase the appearance of your products. Doing so will give your customers a better idea of what they are purchasing and they’ll end up more satisfied with their decision.
Make sure that the information you provide on a certain page pertains to that particular product, category, and brand. For example, you don’t want to provide clothing size guides on a footwear product page.
If you sell internationally, it’s suggested that you include links to international conversion charts or images of such charts on product pages as well as both metric and imperial measurements.
Retailers with physical stores may also want to provide the same product information in-store, especially if COVID-19 has impacted a customer’s ability to interact with products (e.g. if changing rooms are closed).
3. Customer reviews
Featuring customer reviews and ratings on your website can play an important role in reducing returns. In fact, online reviews carry a lot of weight during a consumer’s path to purchase. According to Google, 88% of shoppers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Giving shoppers access to helpful, relevant reviews can give them a better understanding of the products they are considering and can help set expectations about functionality, quality, and usability. And by learning about others’ experiences with the product, shoppers can easily discern if it is right for them.
Customer reviews are a way for merchants to have a finger on the pulse of their business as they provide valuable shopper feedback that can be used to proactively reduce returns. For instance, reviews provide important insight about customer preferences (e.g. what type of shopper buys certain products and how they use them) as well as product flaws. Store owners should constantly be analyzing and reading customer feedback to identify ways that they can improve product quality and services.
Some retailers even use reviews to make important purchasing decisions – e.g. the number of inventory items that should be bought, whether or not to continue selling certain products etc. If specific products have an overwhelming amount of negative reviews, it is time to review the products or work with the supplier.
4. Use technology to optimize the handling of returned items
Many traditional retailers aren’t using systems designed to handle online returns which have increased a lot due to the recent boost in online shopping.
For many, the issue is managing returns once they reach a retail store or shipping facility. Most traditional stores are still new to handling online returns which can include everything from where to put inventory back into stock to processing refunds for online sales in-store. And returns can get even more complicated with multi-location retailers selling on different online channels.
For example, processing returns manually will require a lot more staff hours than returns handled by a system that properly restocks returned products based on the order status. This is a flaw with many retail sales systems as the focus is often on selling as many items as possible, and less thought is put into how to handle costly back office processes such as returns which can really cut into profit margins when not managed effectively.
While some systems will utilize 3rd party apps to manage returns, a complete retail platform will include built-in return features such as:
Return Control Settings such as requiring receipts for returns, requiring return reasons that are tracked by users or a separate return screen to minimize the potential for employee theft.
User Access Controls for Returns such as restricting access to return functions.
In-Store Refunds for Online Sales at the physical location where returned products are actually inspected prior to refunds.
Omnichannel Stock Control that puts returned products back into available stock in all online sales channels and at the location where they are returned immediately once the return order is finalized.
Besides making the process smoother for shoppers, directing returns to physical stores helps retailers save on:
1) The cost of packing materials and staff time to pack orders securely.
2) The shipping fees of returns which are commonly expected by shoppers today with online returns yet doubles the shipping costs for merchants.
3) The cost of damages or lost packages during transit. Even if a merchant has insurance, there are administrative costs to making constant claims.
4) The cost of compensating unhappy customers with additional or future discounts when shipments or refunds are delayed.
5) The higher payment fees charged by processors for online refunds vs. PCI compliant in-person refunds with EMV PIN pads.
But more importantly, returns in-store are more likely to increase the chance of converting a potential refund into an exchange, or even better, a larger sale if the shopper buys more than the original order.
In this way, even though returns can be costly, they can also be a way for a retailer to really differentiate and highlight their customer service. After all, according to Metapack:
92% of customers who receive a good return experience make repeat purchases
So optimizing how you handle returns can be a chance to interact with customers, provide them with a great shopping experience, and capture their loyalty for the long-term.
6. Offer buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS)
While there have been innovative strides taken in the retail industry to bridge the online and brick & mortar experience, even the best technology cannot replicate the in-store environment where customers can see and interact with products in person.
Oftentimes, returns are a result of customers not liking the product or the product not fitting properly. This can be reduced by providing a way for customers to touch or see the product in person before an order is complete. The ideal way to do this is with BOPIS which is also known as Click & Collect in some industries. For shoppers, it provides a convenient way for them to buy as well as return their purchases.
By offering a Buy Online Pickup In-store option, retailers provide their shoppers the convenience of online shopping with the interactive experience of purchasing in-store. And, of course, during the pandemic, this is a safer way for shoppers to buy yet still check their orders before taking them home.
Since the pandemic started this year, BOPIS orders are 275 percent higher than pre-COVID-19, even after stores reopened from lockdowns. Now that shoppers have been using store pickup for an extended period of time, studies show that consumers are unlikely to stop using BOPIS, even after the pandemic. This means that retailers need to find cost-effective ways to offer the service permanently with an omnichannel store system that can handle both sales and returns effectively based on the way people shop today.
Dealing with product returns is never fun, especially now with the complications brought on by COVID-19. However, when properly dealt with, retailers have the opportunity to minimize and even capitalize on returns. We hope our article outlined some of the ways to do so.
What are you doing to minimize returns in-store? Let us know in the comment section below.
Considering everything that is going on with the Coronavirus outbreak, Mother’s Day 2020 is taking place at an unusual time. But even though consumer shopping habits and behaviour have changed dramatically since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, shoppers are still planning to celebrate.
So make your merchandise stand out by putting a spotlight on Mother’s Day. You can do so by featuring Mother’s Day related products on the homepage of your e-commerce store.
Many e-commerce providers, including TAKU eCommerce, allow merchants to highlight specific merchandise by adding featured products to their store homepage. Featured products help retailers attract customer attention to certain items in their store and sell them faster. Here are a few tips when it comes to highlighting your merchandise:
Leveraging social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram that allow you to sell products directly, can help boost Mother’s Day exposure and sales. Here are a few things to keep in mind when promoting on social media:
Sell on Instagram and Facebook Shop: with billions of monthly active users, it is guaranteed that your customers are already on Facebook and Instagram. You can take advantage of their popularity to reach more customers and boost sales. Providing a way for them to browse and buy your products directly also increases the likelihood that they will make a purchase. All shoppers have to do is click on the “Shop” or “Store” tab to view your products. To find out how you can set up Facebook Shop in a few easy steps, click here . For more information on how to sell on Instagram, click here.
Here are a few ways you can provide your shoppers with convenience this Mother’s Day:
Offer contactless pickup and delivery options: With stores closed, shoppers still want a way to give something special to their moms. Offering the safety and convenience of contactless curbside pickup or delivery makes shopping easier for customers, gives them more flexibility, and helps them save on shipping costs. In turn, this boosts customer loyalty while strengthening your brand image. If you would like to learn how to set up curbside pickup in a few simple steps on TAKU eCommerce, click here.
Be helpful: try to be helpful instead of salesy in your Mother’s Day marketing campaign. Consider creating a Mother’s Day gift guide on your website or offer DIY gift ideas etc.