It’s no secret that retail is no longer a one-step shopping experience. Customers want the flexibility of taking their in-store experience online and vice versa. In 2020, Walmart responded to the global pandemic by improving their omnichannel experience and adding more square footage to their stores for online order fulfillment. This helped them achieve a 97% spike in e-commerce sales.
A study by First Insight showed that customers in many categories still prefer in-store shopping versus buying online. In particular, the study showed that over 70% of shoppers are more likely to make impulse purchases or buy more in store, because of the merchandising and customer experience.
It’s just that the pandemic has made it more likely that the customer journey starts online, even if the actual purchase happens in a physical store. As such, for traditional merchants, it’s not about whether customers are shopping more online or in-store. It’s about needing to serve customers across multiple channels, often at the same time. This is why the entire omnichannel shopping experience is increasingly important.
But if you’re a traditional retailer just starting out in this brave, new world, where do you start? Changing store processes to serve omnichannel shoppers isn’t something that can happen overnight. This is where “clicks-to-bricks” strategies come in.
Clicks-to-bricks simply refers to strategies that focus on using “digital storefronts” or “pre-shopping discovery” online to drive foot traffic into stores instead of encouraging customers to mainly shop online. Even if you offer delivery, there are a lot of benefits to focusing on store-driven online shopping.
Top 5 Advantages of a Clicks-to-Bricks Strategy
It maximizes local awareness of your business online. During the pandemic, a lot of businesses focused on selling online and neglected the fact that store shoppers also start their buying journey online. Whether it’s checking store hours or stock availability, being found online is key to offering a smooth customer experience. The easier it is for shoppers to find you online, the more likely they are to purchase from you as compared to some of your competitors who may not be as easy to find.
It increases sales per shopper. Shoppers buy more when shopping in store. Retailers want customers to buy in store because they are more likely to make additional impulse buys with higher margins. If store products are linked to online search with tools such as Google’s See What’s In Store (SWIS) or Local Inventory Ads (LIA), you’ll get store shoppers that walk in “ready to buy” as they already know what you carry and have on your shelves. In fact, helping customers “pre-shop” or “discover” products online can drive more traffic to both physical and online stores. This will increase overall sales per shopper as you’re able to serve shoppers in multiple channels.
It maximizes profitability. Besides bigger basket sizes, using online awareness to drive higher quality foot traffic to your store means that you’ll be spending less in marketing for higher sales. If you use omnichannel tools that link your store data with online research, you can even save on the cost of having employees or agencies manage your product information online.
It gives you useful customer insights. Connecting with customers on multiple channels means more opportunities to gather information about your customers. Whether it is an email address or a physical address, having more data increases retailers’ insights into their customers and their buying habits, making marketing easier and cheaper over time.
It gives you useful inventory insights. Knowing what sells well on which channel allows retailers to sell and target specific segments when releasing new products or product lines.
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.
The bottom line is, you want to make a profit with your business. This means selling products and services that customers want and are willing to pay for at the price you are selling. Finding that point can be confusing to many business owners: balancing margins and finding out the going market price are things to consider before releasing a new product. The wrong strategy could lead to large financial losses; we have created a pricing guide to help retailers get to the other side and find the right pricing strategy for your business.
This is the most straightforward way to determine sell prices. This method is not related to market pricing and sets prices based only on actual costs. In this case, retailers estimate all fixed (e.g. purchase cost) and a share of variable costs (e.g. overhead costs that you have to pay even without any sales such as rent, payroll or utilities) to determine the sell price of a product. This method is most commonly used in product categories that are highly competitive where market prices are relatively known. Staple products or commodities are common examples.
Instead of adding the actual overhead cost of the business, cost-plus pricing is a lot easier to calculate as it assumes a specific fixed markup percentage to a product’s purchase cost. For example, some merchants will simply multiply the cost to buy a product by a factor of 2x to 3x. This is called the price markup. While this method is much easier to use, it is important for retailers to make sure that the markup percentage is enough to meet your target rate of return (profit) and to periodically review the markup to make sure that it is still suitable.
Value or market-based pricing
This is the most common method in industries where the perceived value of a product is highly driven by emotion or lack of availability such as fashion, art, luxury cars or concessions at sporting events. Essentially, this method sets prices mainly based on the perceived or estimated value of a product or service to the customer rather than according to the cost of the product or historical prices. This is commonly used by retailers with deep understanding of brand building, market pricing, managing exclusivity and valuing the benefit to a customer versus how much she or he is willing to pay.
While market-based pricing is constantly changing, and therefore more sophisticated to manage, with newer technology, it is increasingly possible for retailers to incorporate value-based pricing into their pricing strategy to avoid “leaving money on the table.” It’s also worth pointing out that the increasing number of merchants going online has also made pricing in some categories more transparent which increases price competition and can drive pricing lower. It’s why many premium brands enforce MSRP on their online retailers (e.g. Apple) and more merchants are selling their own branded products online today as these categories are the most likely to be successful since supply can be more easily controlled and substitutes are less available.
Introducing new products into the market by lowering price is a strategy that some retailers use to introduce their products into a saturated market. This is a good chance to build brand loyalty and to get new customers to try your products.
Although it may seem intuitive to jump into the market with this strategy to gather as many customers as possible, this strategy does have some drawbacks. Raising prices (after the initial release) often leads to some reluctance from customers, so proceed with caution.
Sensitivity to price changes
All of the pricing methods above should not be applied without considering whether a product is price elastic or inelastic. Price elasticity refers to how sensitive price changes will have on the demand for a product. For some products, demand will change significantly if prices are changed and vice versa. A classic example is grocery store bread. Unless brand loyalty is strong or there is a special product feature, bread pricing tends to be elastic: as price increases, the demand will decline.
Price elasticity is useful as it gives you a sense of how much you can adjust pricing without significantly affecting the demand for your product. It’s important to remember that many products have category thresholds. This means that even if you sell an product that is price inelastic or not sensitive to price changes (e.g. luxury purses), the market will have a perception of the maximum a buyer is willing to pay.
Similarly, it is important to remember that demand sensitivity is also impacted by the availability of substitutes or competitors. So if you sell in a category that has a lot of competitors with similar alternative products, the demand for your products will most likely be more sensitive to price changes since it’s easier for your buyers to find replacements.
Want to read more on how to manage inventory effectively?
In recent years there has been a steady increase in the number of small businesses. According to Statistics Canada, over 41% of GDP in recent years has been generated from small businesses. Ontario alone has over 400,000 independent businesses. For Small Business Week, we wanted to shine a spotlight on small businesses we have worked with and share their stories with you.
Ruffin’s Pet Centre (Tillsonburg)
Ruffin’s Pet Centre (Tillsonburg) is the largest pet store in Tillsonburg and sells a variety of pet products such as pet food, aquariums, and pet toys. They are known for their excellent customer service and attention to detail. Google reviews of Ruffin’s Pet Centres also show that they are always willing to go the extra mile for their customers.
When the COVID-19 pandemic started, Ruffin’s needed to find a way to quickly showcase their products online for store pickup. Because pet food is so bulky, traditional e-commerce solutions that focused on ship-out were not suitable. To stay profitable, Ruffin’s Tillsonburg started selling their products online with TAKU but only for local store pickup. By using TAKU eCommerce, Ruffin’s Tillsonburg is now able to offer pickup at the store within 30-minutes and direct shopping right from Facebook Shop and Instagram Shop.
Kam Wai Dim Sum is a Vancouver-based dim sum wholesaler, in-house deli, and retailer. Though they work with T&T Supermarket to bring the joys of authentic dim sum beyond just their community, they also treasure the connections they have forged with their local community. They are proud to keep their dim sum affordable for locals as well so that people always have access to quality dim sum.
Hutchings Farm is a local, family-run farm based in Pefferlaw. They harvest garlic, eggs, vegetables, and so much more. They are a hub for local farm goods and are known for their friendly service and fresh products. Since moving online with TAKU eCommerce, they have been able to offer a 24/7 catalog to their customers and to organize easy pickup options for their customers.
For Asian Heritage Month, we wanted to highlight one of our favorite clients: Kam Wai. They are an Asian-owned frozen dimsum wholesaler and deli based in Vancouver.
Papa Liu first opened Kam Wai’s doors in 1990 in the heart of Chinatown (downtown Eastside of Vancouver) because of the demand for good quality dimsum in BC’s growing Asian population. At present, Kam Wai is now one of the largest dimsum wholesalers in British Columbia and supplies frozen dimsum to major retailers such as T&T Supermarket.
“Cantonese food is meant to be shared.”
Despite their growing business, Kam Wai keeps their pricing modest because they want to keep their dimsum affordable for their community. TAKU Retail helped make their menu more accessible by offering multi-language options so that non-native English speakers were able to understand the menu and itemized receipts.
Since renovating and implementing TAKU Retail, Kam Wai has almost doubled their daily sales. Director of Marketing of Kam Wai, Nick Sommer says that TAKU Retail’s inventory management made it easy for them to track and analyze daily sales. For Kam Wai, this means being able to keep tabs on what is selling well and to keep offering their dimsum at affordable prices.
“Yummy in the tummy, faster than fast food”
Kam Wai customers post positive reviews across different social media platforms. This is partially because of the easy and quick checkout process. TAKU Retail’s line-busting features help Kam Wai staff handle a high volume of orders efficiently in their busy store.
With most businesses back on their feet and not just relying on online sales to keep them afloat, retailers can start thinking of ways to drive foot traffic back to their stores.
Having said that, traditional methods of driving foot traffic may not be as effective as before. With safety and cleanliness being the main concern of most shoppers, experience-based strategies such as in-store events and classes are no longer practical as they once were pre-pandemic.
That’s why we’ve put together 5 strategies to help store owners drive foot traffic in a post-COVID-19 retail environment. Check them out below.
1. Focus on Health & Safety
Shoppers don’t want to feel at risk of contracting COVID-19 when they enter your store. So if you want more customers to shop at your physical store, you need to make them feel like it is safe to do so.
You can build trust with shoppers by visibly cleaning and sanitizing your shop, providing staff (and if possible customers) with masks, and placing hand sanitizer throughout the store. It is also a good idea to limit the amount of shoppers allowed inside at a given time. Consider placing social distancing markers or decals on the floor. This will help ensure that customers are following social distancing guidelines once they enter your store.
For more information on how to implement health & safety measures post-COVID-19, download our checklist here. Depending on the demographics (e.g. a lot of your customers are seniors) in your area and the space available in your store for people to socially-distance themselves while shopping, you may want to consider a mandatory mask policy. These can be controversial and must be implemented and managed carefully to minimize potential friction. Learn more about how to manage and implement mask policies in your store.
Don’t forget to take advantage of digital channels (social media, SMS, email) to communicate with shoppers. This way, customers will be aware of the health and safety measures you have in place and will be more comfortable coming to your store.
Remember – generating store foot traffic during the pandemic is not just about being the trendiest, cheapest, or most unique brand, it is about appearing safe.
2. Double-down on Google
Hundreds of millions of shoppers use Google everyday to start their product searches, making it the ideal place to list your merchandise.
Merchants in the U.S. can now access this feature for free while an international rollout is expected by the end of the year.
TAKU Retail POS has partnered with Google to make it easier for retailers to automatically sync and optimize their product listings. With TAKU, merchants can choose to send their existing POS product information with the built-in feature to unlock the free product listings. Because this is a built-in integration right in the POS, there’s no data entry required. To learn more, click here.
TAKU’s integration with Google also allows you to display your product catalogue online through Google’s “See what’s in store,” a free showcase directly below your Google store listing. SWIS lets you display your store’s stock and products online with real-time stock updates, attracting nearby shoppers to your store.
As the saying goes, showing up is half the battle. Shoppers need to know when your store is actually open. A shopper that shows up to a closed store because the opening hours listed for your business on Google Maps are outdated likely won’t be back. Make sure you have a verified Google My Business (GMB) store listing and keep your store hours up-to-date. If you’re not using GMB yet, do it right away as it’s the best free online marketing tool available to small businesses. For more information, check out our blog post about why retailers need Google My Business.
Contactless payments are not only convenient, they also provide retailers with a safe and secure way to take payments in-store. Throughout the pandemic, contactless transactions have increased and even become a preferred payment method among consumers. Offering contactless payment will help customers feel safer when purchasing as they don’t have to touch high contact surfaces such as PIN pads or checkout counters.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for contactless payment and pickup methods has significantly increased and stores that offer them will be more attractive to customers when they’re choosing where to shop.
One thing to remember though, is that contactless payments may not be EMV and therefore you may be liable for chargebacks. Prior to the pandemic, merchants would generally set their contactless limits at $50 to $100 per card per day but since March, many retailers have opted to increase the limit to make it easier for customers to buy more when they are in-store. But higher tap limits will increase the chance that those merchants will be responsible for higher-value chargebacks. Make sure to check with your merchant processor regarding liability and what you can do to protect yourself if you ever need to appeal a chargeback (e.g. getting signatures, installing CCTV cameras, etc.) if you are considering adding contactless for the first time or increasing your contactless daily limits.
4. Buy Online, Pickup In-store
For customers that are not comfortable shopping in-store, you can create a contactless retail experience with buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) or pickup at curbside. Shoppers can use your website to browse items, pay online and simply drive to your location when their order is ready for pickup. Once it is safe to offer in-store pickup in a safe, efficient manner, this is always our recommended fulfillment option for retailers that have physical stores. In-store pickups are not only more cost-effective (e.g. no packing or shipping costs), they generally have lower return rates since people can check products prior to pickup and, most importantly, they can lead to higher-margin impulse buys when shoppers see other products they might want to purchase once they are in your store. This is why it is important for retailers to plan carefully where they will place their pickup location in-store. It should be a location that allows shoppers to feel safe (e.g. allows enough space for social distancing) while making it convenient for them to see and pick up additional items quickly.
To make it easier for their staff, retailers should consider enabling staggered pickup times at checkout. This way, long lines and crowds can be avoided as customers must make an appointment to pick up their purchases. All-in-one sales platforms such as TAKU have a built-in function in their online store builder to allow shoppers to choose a pickup date and time at checkout.
5. Exclusive In-store Promotions
Running in-store promotions is a tried and tested way to drive foot traffic. However, retailers need to be strategic about how they run promotions so that they can maximize profitability. Using promotions to generate foot traffic can be done by creating exclusive in-store offers which incentivize customers to come to your store rather than shop online.
The following are some promotional strategies retailers can use:
Exclusivity with Private In-store Appointments – this strategy works particularly well if you are selling higher-value products that can benefit from having a sales associate involved to answer any questions
Exclusivity with In-Store Promotions – use your email marketing lists and social media posts to promote special offers to your best customers with limited time/quantity in-store only promotions specifically for them
In-Store Bundle Discounts – this strategy is particularly useful when you have excess stock you are looking to get rid of but want to ensure a minimum basket size in-store
Surprise In-Store Markdowns – random markdowns such as “score of the week” are effective in attracting both new and returning customers. These promotions are usually less risky as you know exactly how the discount will affect your margins. A smart POS system can analyze in-store promotions, allowing store owners to see trends and margins.
Conditional In-Store Offers – examples include spend a certain amount and get a free item, buy a certain item and save a percentage off your entire order etc.
Want more retail tips? Find out more about retail merchandising below