Multi-location retailers have more issues managing multiple stores because no one can be at more than one place at a time. In order to run a multi-location business, even when you are not always there, you should look at processes that have an impact on productivity and customer satisfaction. We have put together a list of things to help retailers manage their multi-location retail businesses, so that their business can run smoothly no matter where they are.
Multi-location means that you will have different people working in stores that may not interact with each other on a day-to-day basis. Managing each store effectively means standardizing and automating processes so that they all run with the same efficiency. These processes can range from onboarding new employees, delivering product knowledge, processing returns, to updating inventory.
While it’s not easy finding the resources and time to document processes, having something written down will significant speed up future training and make it much easier for staff to understand your policies and procedures. The most successful retailers are those who can a provide consistent experience to customers across all locations. After all, the experience a customer has in a store is a significant part of the brand image of a retailer.
2. Use cloud technology to centralize and streamline your business processes
Cloud technology helps sync up and organize inventory, customer history, employee performance, sales, and cashflow. This means that you can manage your entire business from a single system. Having a centralized location for all business data allows retailers to get accurate, real-time feedback into how their business is running and identify any gaps in their workflows.
One of the best parts about using cloud technology is that it gives you mobile accessibility. You’re no longer tied to a single computer and can have access to your business data on-the-go to see changes in your store as they happen. While some solutions will give you access to your sales data from anywhere, a lot of the modern, new cloud retail management systems will let you access and manage all of your business data so that you can run your store from anywhere.
Another benefit to using cloud technology is that it automatically helps you backup your business data in the cloud. Unlike older store systems which require manual backups or expose you to hardware failure, even if you lose power during a storm, all of your business information will be safely stored in the cloud. And as long as you have smartphones, you can continue to sell using mobile devices.
3. Improve retail business inventory control
It is crucial to have accurate inventory and stock data at all times. One of the major problems with running a multi-location business is that it is much harder to keep your product information in sync. This has only gotten worse since the pandemic started since more retailers are also selling online. The best retail companies are those that use technology that gives them visibility into their inventory and stock levels at every point of storage. Having products available exactly when customers want to buy them is best in an ideal world but helping customers (e.g. shipping to their home or directing them to another location) even when a product is not in stock is key to customer service and closing every sale.
Other ways to control your inventory include keeping an eye on your re-stocking schedule (which requires knowledge of lead times and seasonal availability) as well as your minimum stock levels. This is so that stores are able to re-fill stock before selling out.
4. Use a single commerce system
To make sure that store data and reports are all in-sync, retailers need a single, smart commerce system that can handle both store sales and online orders. Combining your POS and e-commerce processes into a single system helps you determine what products should be carried, which items are bestsellers across different locations or online sales channels, and which products need to be discounted or discontinued across your entire business. Using a single system also helps employees deliver the same experience to customers wherever they shop.
5. Secure your data
In order to comply with local and national privacy laws, retailers need to do their best to protect the privacy of both customers and employees. Finding the right software and hardware to manage sensitive information is key to building customer trust and keeping retail businesses healthy.
TAKU Retail stores customers data on separate databases to minimize the risk of privacy breaches. Read more about our security features here.
Want to know more about our multi-location capabilities? Read more.
With the start of autumn, retailers are beginning to prepare for the most important sales period of the year – the holiday season.
Each year, the holidays usually present retailers with the same set of challenges – increased demand, in-store and online traffic surges, higher rates of retail crime, and supply chain pressures etc.
But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 holiday season is going to be different. The signs of a second wave means that merchants face new obstacles after arguably the toughest retail season in recent history. From physical distancing restrictions to changing consumer behaviour and a deepening recession, the next few months are full of uncertainty.
Supply chain disruptions are inevitable: factors related to COVID-19 are expected to constrain shipping capacity, resulting in delivery delays.
Shoppers are now looking for safer, digitized ways to shop in-store which means that retailers need to rely on digital strategies in order to stay relevant to their customers. Below, we discuss key trends and how retailers can respond and plan for a successful holiday season.
How Retailers can Prepare for the 2020 Holiday Season
Whether you’re just starting out or have been selling online for a while now, you need to invest in your “Digital Storefront”. But what is a digital storefront? Your digital storefront is how your business is represented online. Sometimes it is referred to as “online presence” or “web presence”. It’s very similar to the concept of a real storefront in the physical world – the way people walking by your store would see your signage out front, or where you are located in the neighbourhood. A digital storefront is the electronic representation of your business on the internet. While some might combine digital storefronts with e-commerce, we deliberately keep it separate because there are multiple stages to “being online”.
Many businesses are worried about digitizing as they are worried about the amount of time it will take to start going online. But it’s important to remember that “digitization” can actually be broken down into 5 steps and it’s possible for merchants to move online one-step at a time.
Invest in your Digital Storefront
With the potential of pandemic-related restrictions, it is crucial for retailers to be discoverable online this holiday season. Given the likelihood that the growing customer preference for shopping locally will continue into the holidays, retailers should take advantage of digital marketing strategies that target nearby shoppers.
Google My Business: The first step of going online isn’t about selling online immediately. It’s about making sure that your business can be found online by local shoppers. Make sure that you take full advantage of all available foot traffic by keeping up-to-date store hours and contact details online. You can keep this updated yourself manually or manage it directly in an integrated point-of-sale solution.
Google Retail Listings: Even if you’re not selling online yet, you can show potential shoppers what you carry in-store. Consider using an integrated all-in-one retail management platform such as TAKU to show what’s on your shelves with automated product feeds that show exactly what’s in stock without any extra work. And if you’re in an area that already offers it, integrated merchants can unlock valuable free advertising with free Google Retail Listings that show up based on what nearby shoppers search for online.
Invest in your Online Store
Being found by local shoppers is half the battle. But the pandemic has more people shopping online for the first time for products that they would normally buy in-store. Of course, depending on the type of store you have, starting an online store may not be that easy. Common issues faced by physical stores looking to sell online include:
Lack of funds, resources or skills to manage an e-commerce store
Heavy, fragile or regulated products that are unsuitable for shipping
Uncompetitive pricing and offers compared to large retailers such as Amazon
Inaccurate inventory quantities
Lack of store POS integration options
Yet according to Google, 1 in 4 shoppers went online during the lockdown to purchase something they would normally buy in-store. As a result, some retailers experienced holiday-like traffic and sales via online channels during the first quarter of 2020.
This indicates that during the pandemic – and likely once it’s over – if your store doesn’t offer online checkout, you will lose access to an increasing number of online shoppers.
At TAKU, the founders have all worked in retail and support retailers every day. We understand the struggles of trying to operate while understaffed. But just as there are ways to more easily manage your digital storefront, there are things that every retailer can do to start selling online step-by-step including:
Expect to launch with fewer products and add new items over time to build your full online product line. Many traditional merchants think that selling online is the same as loading the shelves of a physical store. And so, many of them will hold back from launching their online stores until all of their products are properly loaded with great images. If you’re running an established business, you know how long it took to build your existing product listing. So naturally, it can take a much longer time than expected to prepare product information for an online store. But in comparison to a physical store, it’s perfectly reasonable to launch with several hundred products and add new ones every day. In fact, telling customers that “NEW items are being added daily!” can be a great way to remind them to keep coming back.
Selling online doesn’t equal delivery. E-commerce is often associated with online orders for shipment but e-commerce can just be used as a way to take orders online. Delivery to local customers can be expensive (the cost of packing orders, shipping costs and the risk of damages) and a poor experience for the customer (packages frequently delayed in transit during the pandemic). Shipping online orders can also be a hassle for busy stores when you don’t have store space and materials to pack orders. This is why we often recommend that merchants start with curbside or in-store pick-up in the beginning if they don’t have the resources to handle packing, shipping issues or even local delivery.
Use e-commerce to drive store traffic. Many of our customers are established stores that have a great local customer base. Don’t encourage customers to ship products at the expense of your physical store. Encourage them to visit the store or pickup so that you can offer customer service and showcase impulse items to increase your margins.
Retailers looking to prepare for the surge in online traffic this holiday season should focus on their omnichannel strategy. This means:
having a flexible and scalable solution that will help provide shoppers with a seamless shopping experience across all channels – from online and social media to in-store.
increasing ecommerce site performance – 91% of shoppers leave an ecommerce site if the pages are too slow to load.
moving legacy systems to the cloud to accommodate higher traffic and generate higher sales. Cloud retail POS software gives retailers the flexibility to scale their operations up or down with demand peaks. And they can do so without costly upfront investments or software updates that often come with traditional legacy systems.
Optimizing website performance by focusing on the customer experience.
Improve Inventory Visibility Across all Channels
The customer journey has become increasingly omni-channel due to the pandemic. Shoppers are now using more devices to browse and are expecting contactless ways to purchase and receive their products. Specifically, the COVID-19 outbreak has given rise to new fulfillment methods such as curbside pickup, in-store appointments, contactless local delivery, and “click-and-reserve”.
With the rise in new fulfillment methods and omni-channel shopping, retailers need to improve their inventory visibility. Earlier this year, stock-outs of high demand products caused searches for “in-stock” products to grow globally by 70%. This means that customers are looking for real-time updates on store product availability.
Modern cloud software can provide real-time updates on stock levels across all channels, improving inventory accuracy and helping retailers avoid the risk of stock-outs and excess merchandise.
Prepare for Traditional Delivery Providers to Exceed Capacity
Retail experts are predicting that the ability for products to arrive on time this holiday season will be constrained by factors related to COVID-19. These factors include a surge in online orders and the implementation of social distancing measures in distribution centers.
As we saw earlier in the pandemic, surges in ecommerce impacted shipping capacity and delivery windows, creating big supply chain disruptions. Retailers need to prepare for this possibility as to not risk customer aggravation with gifts not arriving in time for the holidays.
Store owners can prepare for delivery issues by doing the following:
Providing real-time inventory visibility across all channels, as discussed earlier.
Use stores as fulfillment centres. Train employees to be fulfillment gurus – this includes training them to both pack and deliver parcels locally.
Incentivize customers to use contactless fulfillment options rather than shipping. Make sure to communicate with customers about alternative fulfillment options early on and pass on cost savings.
The unprecedented nature of this year is expected to produce a holiday season unlike the past. Retailers can prepare by adapting to new consumer channels and shopping habits, as outlined in this post.
According to the National Retail Federation, losses due to organized retail crime, theft, and vendor fraud, etc. have continued to grow over the past few years. In 2019, shrinkage reached $61.7 billion, up from $50.6 billion in 2018.
Now the COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges for retailers when it comes to loss prevention.
History has shown that retail theft increases after global events that have major economic impact. Following events such as 9/11 and the financial crisis of 2008, there was a notable increase in shoplifting.
Retail experts are predicting that COVID-19 could lead to even greater increases in retail crime as factors such as unemployment, uncertainty, and financial pressure make people more likely to steal and purchase stolen goods. Additionally, thieves are likely to take advantage of masking policies to get away with shoplifting and organized retail crime.
Let’s take a look at how retail owners can mitigate the risk of increased retail theft post-pandemic.
Post-COVID-19 loss prevention tips
Limit the number of shoppers in-store
Limiting the amount of shoppers allowed inside at a given time will prevent your retail store from becoming too crowded. Not only is this an important health & safety measure post-COVID-19, it is also critical in deterring retail theft.
A limited number of shoppers in-store will make it easier for staff to spot any suspicious activity. Remember, alert employees are the best defense against shoplifters. Attentive customer service and eye contact are key. Thieves hate attention and are less likely to act if they are in plain sight of store employees. So, if employees suspect a shopper is likely to commit a crime, teach them to engage the shopper in conversation.
Since many retailers have had to decrease the number of staff per shift to accommodate social distancing guidelines, limiting shoppers in store will also help to ensure adequate staff oversight. This way, store owners can be confident that there are enough employees keeping an eye on the sales floor.
Use cameras and mirrors
No matter how alert you and your employees are, it’s difficult to constantly monitor what is going on in your store. This is why security cameras, mirrors, and closed-circuit television cameras are great assets. When you are busy assisting shoppers or if you get momentarily distracted, video surveillance ensures that you are still covered in case of a crime or theft. And with retail theft expected to rise and a limited amount of staff allowed per shift post-COVID-19, you may want to consider installing more cameras and mirrors. It can be as simple as wifi cameras with recording functions or advanced AI surveillance software such as NoLeak Defense which uses technology to flag when a person’s body language is suspicious.
For smaller retailers, mirrors are a cost effective way to make a significant impact for both monitoring and deterrence. It’s a good idea to place them in the “blind spots” and corners of your store. This will make it easier for staff to see the whole store and at the same time, can make the perceived size of your store bigger.
Signage to prevent theft
Another cost-effective way to minimize opportunities for thieves to steal is the use of signage. Similar to how an at-home security system would deter burglars, anti-theft signs can act as a means to ward off potential retail crime.
Here are a few best practices when it comes to maximizing the impact of loss-prevention signage:
Place signs near your storefront or your front door to make it clear that your retail store is being monitored. This is often the first place that shoppers look and helps to minimize any privacy concerns.
Make sure your signage is placed high up where shoplifters would look for cameras/mirrors.
Consider featuring a set of eyes or list the consequences of committing retail crime (fines, jail time etc.) on the signage. Research has shown that this increases the likelihood of compliance.
Go cashless for security
Unfortunately a significant amount of shrinkage is internal. After all, employees are more likely to understand how your operations work and how products or money can be taken without being noticed. And so, with the increase in shoplifting, experts are also predicting a spike in employee theft post-pandemic.
If you accept cash, you won’t be able to run your retail business without giving employees access to your cash drawer. At the same time, balancing your cash drawer every day is time consuming. In the words of small business expert Michael Philippou, “take away cash and you take away the problem”. If it is necessary for you to accept cash, it’s important for you to use a retail POS system that has proper cash management and “cashout” controls including payment breakdown by tender type, the ability to hide system or +/- figures, etc. These types of functions will make it more difficult for employees to adjust closing figures as only users with the higher access rights would be able to see the comparisons.
To reduce the risk of internal theft, you should consider joining other retailers in going cashless, even if only temporarily. Yes there are costs associated with electronic payments but when you consider the risks in terms of employee theft and the extra administration costs, it is likely more cost-effective for you to go cashless. COVID-19 has only increased the risks and is the key reason why many retailers (and even government support such EBT programs) are increasingly digital these days. And if you are a fast-moving retailer, taking integrated electronic payments with your POS can also help increase your sales as you can significantly increase your checkout speed and accuracy.
Use a unified retail software
Before the pandemic, many merchants looked at “omnichannel,” “harmonized” or “unified” retail as a nice-to-have. Since the pandemic started, retailers are now looking at omnichannel as a must-have. So what do all of these terms actually mean?
While the terms have slight differences, they basically refer to a single system or piece of software that allows you to connect all of your inventory and customer data from all sales channels. So whether you make a sale online or in-store, you can track every order, payment, refund or inventory change in one software. Separate or poorly linked systems make it much harder for store managers to know how much inventory there is. Naturally, this creates opportunities for would-be thieves to more easily steal products – as nobody will notice that system quantities don’t match what’s available until they actually check what’s in stock!
While it’s possible for traditional POS software to offer some of these functions, a cloud-based system will be much better at handling this as the data in a true cloud system is managed in a central database online. This is particularly true if you manage inventory over multiple physical locations within one or many stores. During uncertain times, the flexibility and accessibility of cloud-based systems from anywhere makes it a lot easier for store managers and owners to:
More easily identify and trace suspicious activity all from a single system
Know what total inventory is in-stock vs. available to sell across all of your locations and sales channels.
Have better visibility into all transactions and inventory activity from wherever they are working (e.g. when they are working from home)
Have proper employee controls based on their access rights regardless of what device they are using and wherever they log in (e.g. no more remote access!)
Revise your store layout
There is a lot to consider when it comes to retail design in a post-pandemic environment. Retailers need to re-organize their store layouts to help shoppers and employees feel safe and comfortable. But at the same time, their store design and set up needs to be organized in the best possible way to prevent theft.
Below are some tips to consider when revising your store layout post-COVID-19:
Place shelves and displays 6 ft. apart so employees have maximum visibility. This also helps to ensure compliance with social distancing guidelines.
Have elevated sales counters for better staff visibility of the shop floor.
Place small high-touch and high-value items near the checkout counter or in locked displays.
Install mirrors and cameras to eliminate blind spots.
Make sure there is adequate lighting in all areas.
Avoid large or clustered displays by reducing your selection. Many retailers including mainstream grocery stores are doing this now as fewer SKUs means less re-stocking and better visibility on suspicious behaviour.
Keep your store organized; a disorganized store attracts shoplifters and makes it easier for them to operate.
Install sensors that notify you when shoppers enter or exit the store. This is particularly important if you are trying to control the number shoppers in your store to maintain social distancing.
Have an employee stationed near the front of the store to greet customers as they enter and exit the store. Make sure that this employee is trained to handle customers with mask-related issues or to explain your store safety policies, etc. Personable, engaged employees help deter would-be thieves who are more likely to target stores where they can enter and leave undetected.
Partner with law enforcement
Working closely with law enforcement is a key factor in the fight against organized retail crime and theft. In the U.S., many federal, state, and local governments have established agencies that work with retailers to combat organized retail crime. To find out more about ORC associations in Canada, click here.
It’s a good idea to contact your local police station or retail association for advice on how to report organized retail crime, shoplifting, and internal theft in your area. Authorities can redirect you to local community resources and even provide important loss prevention tips.
Prepare your employees
With post-pandemic employee fraud expected to increase, retailers need to take preventive action. Besides some of the payment and system options mentioned earlier, here a few others steps that retailers can take to protect against internal shrinkage:
Send a clear message to all employees that detecting fraud is still a priority and will not slip under the radar. With sales down, layoffs and the addition of preventive health & safety measures, some employees may sense the company’s attention is elsewhere and believe there is an opportunity for theft.
Fraud training for senior employees, visible management of anti-fraud efforts, and the promotion of transparency should still be a priority for retail owners and managers.
Do random inventory counts. It is not necessary to check the entire store – many stores often do partial counts by section – but make sure that the counts are unscheduled so that employees cannot anticipate them.
Increase POS data analysis and auditing frequency to be familiar with employee activity and be alert to possible fraud activity when there are unusual patterns.
Use a modern POS system to make it easier to manage discrepancies in inventory and have a clear overview of your entire business across all locations and sales channels.
Ensure your POS system has strong user permissions. These permissions allow store owners and managers to restrict staff members from accessing certain features (such as sales reports and refunds without receipts, etc.).
Run background checks when hiring new employees.
Ensure employees are well trained to prevent accidental loss. Whether it’s entering inventory incorrectly or entering the wrong discount, accidental losses can add up. A POS system with built-in training tools can help ensure that your employees are well-trained on store policies and procedures.
We hope you found this article useful.
If you are a Toronto retailer, you can also download the following PDF for step-by-step instructions on how to report a retail crime.
Whether you’re a long time merchant or you’re just starting out, having the right retail POS system in place is important for your success.
A retail point-of-sale system is a management software that helps simplify and manage everything in a retail operation. Today’s modern POS software can even handle sales in store and online, and can include marketing tools designed to help you increase your revenue.
In this article, we’ll take you through the things that you should consider when choosing a new retail POS system.
4 Things To Consider In A New Retail POS System
1. Cloud vs. Legacy
First, you must decide whether you prefer a cloud-based or a legacy retail POS system. The main difference between these two types of software is how data is stored and where you can use the software.
Legacy POS software (also known as on-premise, installed or desktop software) is installed on specific devices and the data created is stored on a database in a physical computer or server in the store. Because the data is stored on a specific computer or device in your store, you can only access the data when you are actually in the store. A user can only use a legacy POS software in the physical store because the software is also saved on computers in the store. You can compare it to having a software program or an electronic document saved on your computer at home – they cannot be accessed from anywhere else.
In comparison, cloud retail POS systems save all data in a secure cloud server located outside of the store with a reliable hosting service such as Google Cloud. Data that is stored in a cloud server can be accessed from anywhere with internet and will have advanced security control over who can access it. A similar example of how cloud systems are different would be to consider traditional video rentals with Netflix. With a video rental, you can only watch it if you have a physical tape or DVD player. With Netflix, as long as you have an internet connection, your favorite shows can be accessed from anywhere because Netflix’s video player and all of their shows are stored in cloud servers which users can access based on login usernames and passwords.
When deciding between the two types of POS software, you must consider which one is a better fit for your retail business. Click here to better understand how cloud POS software is changing the retail industry.
2. Device Compatibility
It’s important to remember that most POS software only work on specific devices. So you must also consider whether you can re-use your existing devices when selecting a new POS software. Otherwise, you’ll need to invest a considerable amount of money (and time) in new hardware devices together with the new retail POS system.
When narrowing down your POS options, look to see if the software works with existing devices and hardware such as your computers, barcode scanners, etc. Some hardware such as credit card terminals don’t need to be fully integrated but there should be ways to use them if you would like to avoid buying new hardware.
Expert Tip: Just because a software is cloud-based, does not mean that it works on all devices. The earliest cloud POS software were built for specific operating systems and can only be used on specific devices (e.g. iPads)
3. Training And Automation
Retailers may be tempted to choose the cheapest POS software option when looking for a new software. But it’s important to consider the cost of training staff to use a new retail POS system in the overall cost of switching.
A POS system that is inexpensive but difficult to use can cost you a lot in the long term. This is especially true for high-traffic retailers that deal with peak periods and long lineups. It is also important for retailers with high turnover rates or seasonal peaks. If you are constantly training new staff members, you need to consider a solution with built-in training tools that are easy to use.
User-friendly software that is easy to operate will speed up store operations and make for happier, more productive employees. This means a faster onboarding process and lower ongoing training costs for you.
At the same time, it’s important to also consider automation features when looking at new retail POS systems. Besides ease of use, you will want to consider POS tools or features that eliminate routine tasks. Examples include managing inventory in store and online. This type of automation helps to reduce staffing costs and overall reliance on trained staff to handle ongoing, repetitive tasks that don’t add value.
4. Scalability Of Retail POS Systems
Many retailers make the mistake of choosing a POS without thinking about long-term growth. While you may only have one retail location with minimal inventory now, there’s no way to know how quickly your retail operations will grow. That’s why it’s important to consider the future cost and expandability of any retail POS system.
This means that your POS software should be able to grow or scale with you. Look out for the following features when selecting a new retail POS system:
The ability to add new sales channels (e.g. online store, Facebook Shop) linked to inventory and customers
The ability to add new stores, selling zones, and stock allocations to split inventory
The ability to see customer history across all locations and channels
The ability to use multi-currency and multi-language
The ability to handle high transaction and inventory volume
The ability to automate tax calculations with exceptions across locations and channels
Some retail POS providers charge based on the number of stores and transactions volume. This means that eventually you will have to invest a substantial amount of money upgrading your POS plan or investing in a new POS altogether when you’re ready to expand. So rather than wasting resources switching to a new POS provider, choose a POS software that supports retail growth in the long-term, right from the start.
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.
To read more about how to be found by local shoppers, click here.
How easy is it for customers to find you online?
When you open an online store, attracting traffic or site visitors is very different from attracting foot traffic to your physical store. In fact, it can be even harder for shoppers to find you because there isn’t an equivalent to “street traffic” online. If you have a new online store that does not rank online in search results, would-be shoppers would need to know the exact website address to be able to find you.
This is why it’s common for a new web store to receive very little traffic in the beginning without any marketing. This is particularly true with brick and mortar first retailers as established stores often start online stores as secondary channels or even just as online catalogues. And even though the current COVID-19 crisis has driven many shoppers online, being found is still an issue when your web store is new. In order to get regular customers and traffic to your site, it’s going to take some effort on your part to promote and market your online shop.
Below you’ll find some easy and cost-effective ways to start promoting your online store to both new and existing customers.
Adding live chat to your online store allows you to chat directly with your website visitors in real-time. It’s a must-have tool for any online retailer as it’s one of the best ways to answer customer questions right when they are on your site and encourage immediate sales.
Instant messenger applications such as Facebook Messenger make it easy for retailers to add live chat to their site and take advantage of its many benefits. After all, millions of people already communicate through Facebook Messenger daily, presenting a huge market for retailers to tap into. Additionally, many e-commerce software providers (including TAKU eCommerce) offer direct integrations to Facebook Messenger – for free!
Click here to find out more about adding live chat to your TAKU online store.
The following are some of the ways your business can benefit from adding live chat to your website:
Reduced expenses: Traditional customer service and support teams usually operate via phone. But this can be costly – in terms of costs per employee and toll charges. For smaller retailers especially, a free live chat platform such as Facebook Messenger can help reduce costs substantially.
Increased sales: According to a study done by CrazyEgg, 38% of customers are more likely to buy from a company that offers live chat support.
As a retailer selling online, the best way to gain subscribers and have your emails stand out is to use email automation. For those not familiar with email automation, these are marketing tools that allow you to send out targeted messages at certain times or based on specific actions. For example, you can create email campaigns that automatically remind customers of the products they were interested in, encourage shoppers to buy products that they added to their online shopping carts but didn’t purchase (automated abandoned cart emails), or simply thank them for being loyal customers.
Basically, automated email campaigns give you the ability to use analytics to create an individualized email for each of your customers. And the benefits are numerous; you can encourage the first purchase, increase loyalty and drive repeat purchases, and re-engage inactive customers. As a result, you build personalized relationships with customers while increasing your revenue.
3. FREE Google Shopping listings
In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, Google just recently announced the launch of unpaid Product Listings. Beginning on April 27th, 2020, U.S. retailers will be able to sell on Google for free with Google Shopping. While it will initially launch in the States only, Google does have plans to expand this globally before the end of year. Click here to learn more.
Google Shopping Ads have proven to be one of the most effective ways to drive e-commerce sales. The ads appear above organic search results in Google and consist of a product image, rating, price, and store information. To learn more about Google Shopping, click here.
They have become a popular option for many ecommerce merchants and for good reason; they have a 30% higher conversion rate compared to text only ads. Below are some of the key benefits of Google Shopping:
Attract better store traffic: product ads are displayed based on the keywords a user searches for. For example, if a user conducts a search for “pet food”, Product Listings of pet stores will be shown. If a user isn’t interested in your products, your ads won’t be displayed – which brings us to the next point.
Higher ROI: Google Product Listings have a higher conversion rate due to the fact that they drive relevant traffic. This means more relevant traffic to your online store at a lower cost per click.
Stand out: Google Product Listings instantly grab the attention of users as they are the only ads in search results that contain photos.
Broad reach: Multiple products can appear under a single search which means more exposure for your store and products.
4. Selling on Facebook and Instagram
Facebook and Instagram remain the most popular social media platforms with both applications amassing billions of daily active users. Taking advantage of the popularity of both social media channels can help you reach new customers and sell more.
Think about it this way: your customers are already on social media. Adding a way for them to browse and purchase your products directly on each platform gives your brand increased visibility. And it makes it easier for shoppers to buy your products – all they have to do is click on the “Shop” or “Store” tab to view your products.
It takes just a few clicks to start selling on Facebook or Instagram with TAKU eCommerce. Click here to learn more.
The following are some ways you can drive more traffic to your store with Facebook Shop:
List store details such as your store address, phone, website, temporary service changes etc. This makes your business more accessible because it makes it easier for potential shoppers to find your business when they search Facebook.
Share content about your online store including special offers, new products, contests etc.
Use Facebook Ads to target a specific type of shopper, build brand loyalty, and increase your online sales.
Basically, retargeting is a form of online advertising that targets users based on their past behavior on your website. Chances are, you’ve been exposed to retargeting ads yourself at one point or another. For example, after browsing through some clothes online you may have noticed ads popping up on your social media advertising the specific clothes and store you were just viewing.
Retargeting ads are very effective at encouraging shoppers to “finish” their sale and generally cost less than regular social media ads. But it’s important to remember that they are only effective if you are already receiving a reasonable amount of website traffic as they will only be able target people who have already visited your online store.
The most popular methods of retargeting include using the Facebook pixel or Google Adwords. The Facebook pixel is essentially a small software code that “follows” your customers as they browse your online store and allows Facebook to advertise to them after.
You can start retargeting in minutes with TAKU eCommerce’s built-in integration with the Facebook pixel. Alternatively, you can download the retargeting app for Google and Facebook. Learn more here.
If you prefer to target customers using Google Adwords, you must add Google Analytics to your store and connect it with your Google Adwords account. Learn more here.
6. Optimize the checkout process
Retailers who are looking for ways to increase their online revenue often overlook the importance of checkout optimization. But in order to reduce checkout abandonment and improve your conversion rate, it’s important to create the best checkout experience possible.
The following are some ways to create the optimal e-commerce checkout experience:
Optimize the checkout experience for mobile: The majority of online shopping is done on mobile devices. When you are developing your layout, ensure your design is mobile-responsive. If you are not design or tech savvy, consider choosing an e-commerce provider with premade layouts. All of TAKU eCommerce’s pre-made themes are mobile-friendly but whatever platform you are using, make sure to always check your website on every device (desktop, tablet, mobile) once it’s published to make sure everything is re-sizing correctly.
Add custom messages at checkout: Display any important information to your customers at checkout. For example, you can draw your customers’ attention to special offers, remind them of your shipping/return policies, remind them that they will receive an email confirmation, etc.
Be transparent about costs: Unexpected costs are the number one cause of cart abandonment in the online shopping world. Make sure to provide as many details as possible by including a subtotal, shipping fees, applicable taxes, and a final order total.
We hope you found this article helpful.
Keep an eye out on our blog for more e-commerce marketing tips and strategies.
In the meantime, learn more about how you grow your retail business online with TAKU eCommerce.