If you’re like most retail business owners, you probably have your sight set on growing your brand. You want to open more stores, expand into new markets, and create a strong presence in the regions you serve right now.
With so many brands competing for customers’ attention online and offline, it can be challenging to stand out as an independent retailer. However, with the right strategy and its execution, it’s also not impossible.
You might already have a physical shop where customers can browse your products or services in person. Or, you might be selling your wares online to customers all around the world through marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy, or Shopify.
If you’re doing only one of these, there’s a huge potential of your business’s growth by getting into both, online and offline, spaces simultaneously. While it might seem like a challenging task, successfully managing both, your online and physical store, is not as hard as it sounds.
After all, 47% of customers want to check out products online and return in-store to buy them. It means if you are absent at any one of these spaces, you’re missing out on many of your prospects.
You don’t want that, right?
By leveraging the right tools and techniques, you can easily synchronize both your online and physical storefronts.
So in this article, you will get to know essential tools, techniques, and strategies to take your business to the new heights of success, while managing your online and physical spaces simultaneously.
Let’s get started:
6 Strategies to Simultaneously Manage your Online and Physical Store
Implement an employee scheduling software
Have you faced difficulties scheduling employees’ time, duration, and place of work in your retail setting when your business is expanded throughout both, online and physical, spaces?
If yes, you know how demanding it is to schedule these subtle things which apparently look easy but are not. You have to take in account your employees’ work-life balance, absentees, substitutes, and a lot more when scheduling.
It is hectic and time-consuming, right? Even more when you have to schedule for employees working on both your online and physical storefronts.
Well, not anymore. There are some good employee scheduling software for retail that help you create a comprehensive schedule for all of your employees easily.
With these impressive tools, you can create a flawless, easy-to-understand employees’ schedule and send it anywhere instantly with a click.
1. Leverage technology to bridge the gap between online and physical stores
If you’d like to integrate your online and physical stores more closely, the first step is to understand the differences between each channel and how they function.
Physical stores are much more constrained by time and space than online channels, so how do you ensure customers have a seamless experience regardless of whether they buy your products online or in-person?
At physical stores, customers can browse and test your products in person, and you can also engage them directly through one-on-one sales and customer service interactions.
When it comes to online stores, you’re limited to product photos, videos, descriptions, and customer reviews.
However, the following are some of the tools that can help you bridge the gap here, so that you can manage your both spaces simultaneously:
- Agendrix: As mentioned above, Agendrix helps you schedule work of your employees across online and physical stores.
- Shopify: With Shopify, you can create your online store in minutes with its website builder. Once you have set up your store, you can start selling products from anywhere in the world.
- Shopify POS: It can help you integrate your online and offline stores. Its smart inventory management feature makes sure you never run out of inventory at both your spaces. It helps you in demand forecasting, placing orders with your vendors and suppliers, inbound and outbound inventory movement, and much more.
- Xero: For bookkeeping of both of your stores, you can use this tool. You can integrate your bank account with Xero to pay and track your bills seamlessly. This way, you can have a clear account of your accounts payable and cash flows, for both your offline and online stores.
Similarly, there are many other tools that help you manage your online and physical stores, so you can leverage their power in your favour.
2. Create a multi-channel marketing strategy
As you integrate your online and physical stores more closely, you might wonder:
- how to best allocate your marketing resources?
- How much should you invest in digital advertising to drive online sales?
- How much should you invest in physical marketing to drive foot traffic to your stores?
One way to navigate this decision is to create a multi-channel marketing strategy that prioritizes both online and physical marketing efforts.
For your online space, for instance, you may decide to spend a larger portion of your budget on branding and marketing efforts aimed at raising awareness of your brand, such as social media posts, digital ad campaigns, and brand partnerships.
Whereas for your physical store, your marketing efforts will primarily focus on getting the word out about your location, hours, and product offerings.
For example, you can plan special events and host in-person product launches, or host flash sales to drive foot traffic to your store.
3. Manage your online reputation
Your online reputation is as crucial as your physical storefront; therefore, you should stay on top of your online reputation management.
After all, 81% of customers will likely visit your online store first, and they’ll likely turn there before they ever visit your physical store.
Hence, it’s crucial that you stay on top of online reviews, response times, content, and more to ensure that your online reputation is strong.
You can take several steps to manage your online reputation, including:
- Respond to all online reviews: no matter where your customers purchase your products, they may leave a review. That’s why it’s important to respond to all of them.
- Share brand stories: customers want to know why your brand exists and what you stand for. By sharing your brand stories and values, you can attract new customers and strengthen relationships with current ones.
- Build brand advocates: it’s not enough to respond to customer complaints. You also need to cultivate brand advocates who are willing to defend your brand and products on your behalf.
- Create consistent content: you don’t have to wait for customers to come to you. Instead, you can actively create content on social media, your blog, and other online platforms to draw customers to your site.
4. Leverage customer data across platforms
When you’re integrating your online and physical stores, you’ll likely need to collect customer data to make better and informed business decisions.
This data can be used across platforms to design the most effective marketing tactics and customer engagement strategies.
If you have a physical store, you can collect customer data at checkout counters or through custom-designed POS systems, like the one we have mentioned above.
If you primarily sell your products online, you can collect data through sign-up forms, checkout forms, and customer surveys. You can also use data from social media to incorporate in your marketing efforts.
4. Train employees who will interact with customers physically and virtually
You’ll need to train employees who are up to the task of engaging customers both in-store and on your website. You need to make sure these employees are well-versed in your products, know how to use them, and know the best ways to encourage additional sales from your customers.
They should also be fully versed in your marketing strategy, social media accounts, and how to respond to any customer service issues that might arise in either channel. This ensures that customers are receiving the same level of service and care no matter where they choose to shop with your brand.
Most importantly, you’ll want to make sure your employees are equipped with proper training on how to handle a wide range of issues, including product returns and refunds, website order inquiries, and other common problems. You can only ensure that your employees can tackle such issues by training them
As you can see, there’s a lot of potential for retailers to expand their businesses by integrating their online and physical stores.
While it’s important to keep in mind that growth doesn’t always have to happen through opening new storefronts, it is important to keep an eye on new opportunities.
When it comes to integrating your online and physical stores, there are many ways to do so and many benefits to doing so.
As explained in this article, you can integrate your online and physical stores and grow your business by leveraging technology, creating a multi-channel marketing strategy, managing your online reputation, and more.