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Making time to perfect your business’s online alter-ego can be tough as a bricks and mortar retailer, but investing time, and, occasionally, money into your digital presence pays, especially as more and more consumers are shopping online and using social media to discover and engage with brands. But where to start?
“If a retailer is starting from scratch with a digital presence in 2022, the most important thing is to think about how they can tie together the digital and their physical presence as opposed to thinking about their digital activities being completely separate,” advised Catherine Erdly, founder of the Resilient Retail Club.
“More and more of what we call e-commerce is actually involving the physical store,” she said, like click and collect or buying online and returning an item in store. “These are all behaviours that more and more customers are exhibiting where they are purchasing online, but the sum element of that purchase still involves the physical store, so it’s important for independent food retailers to consider that.”
Customers that shop across your digital and physical channels will be better and more loyal customers, Catherine said, “so it’s worth thinking about how customers can move between both the online and offline presence. Finally, when thinking about their digital profile, they should remember to be showcasing what’s available in store because more and more customers are researching online before a visit to a physical space. So make sure, at the very least, your website and social media makes it clear what people can expect when they see you in store.”
Learn more about balancing your bricks and mortar shop with online platforms here.
Another way retailers can start making inroads digitally is by finding a way to own their data. “A big item on your to-do list for 2022, if you haven’t already got one, is a loyalty scheme,” said Harry Dance, head of digital marketing at Kayo Digital. It’s more important now than ever, as new privacy regulations are requiring more protections for online data – for instance, Google has said it will be removing third-party cookies, which help websites remember your information, from 2022.
“What does that mean to you and me,” Harry asked, “other than our own personal details will become more secure? It means targeted advertising will become harder, using data you do not own will become less effective, the data you do own becomes increasingly valuable and the more data/relationships you have with your clients the better.
“The outcome of this to your business means you should value your current customers and connections that much more,” he said. “This is where a loyalty scheme should kick in.”
Loyalty schemes allow retailers to talk to their customers regularly, improve sales and ensure sustainable growth, “and – most importantly – build a community you’re responsible for and own, saving you money on advertising and making growth future-proof in a world where third-party data is starting to disappear and owning data is increasingly valuable,” Harry said.
Loyalty schemes allow you to unleash your creative side, too. For example, Marks & Spencer recently announced it would invite customers to take part in a Sparking Change challenge through its loyalty reward scheme, Sparks. Though this, customers will be supported to try a lower-carbon diet and eat healthier with resources to make more sustainable meals from scratch. Could your shop run a similar scheme for loyal customers this year?