Why Offering Ecommerce Is Essential To Growing Your Business—And How To Do It Right
The bedding and mattress retail industry has long utilized a specific sales formula: shopper comes into a mattress store, the RSA gets to know the shopper by asking questions and then shows them a variety of products that meet their needs. Throughout this process, a rapport is built; now the shopper knows who to see when they need more sleep products. It’s not a bad formula; in fact, it’s one that has worked for a long time. But it doesn’t take into account the fact that the way consumers approach purchasing isn’t static—it’s evolving all the time.
While it used to be that the consumer began their product research when they entered the store, that’s no longer the case. Research now manifests in a combination of online and in-store reading, browsing, price and quality comparison. And that means that, these days, brick-and-mortar retailers really can’t afford not to be online.
With a finger on the pulse of the latest consumer trends, Reverie understands just how important it is for retailers to establish an ecommerce strategy of their own. The company has key insights on how to expand online in such a way that it complements their in-store business rather than detracting from it.
It all starts with understanding today’s consumers and being realistic about what they want and need. At the very least, you have to meet their expectations—and, in order to do that, you have to first know what they are. Deena Gardner, Reverie’s vice president of marketing and communications explains further, “As a brand, sometimes you’re thinking, ‘Ok, I’ve got what they want. All they have to do is come in here and I’ll sell it’ but you really have to take the time to listen and consider: ‘What do they want? How do they want it?’ It’s crucial to take a step back and figure out how to help consumers and actually understand them.”
Understanding how consumers are exploring all the different product options is crucial. Today’s customer journey is largely non-linear. While some people start their research online and then buy in-store, others do the opposite—or some back-and-forth combination of the two. According to Reverie’s new digital marketing manager, Charlie Kondek, “Consumers feel the online and offline worlds should be almost the same, since that’s how they shop! Each one strengthens the other.“
In some ways, the pandemic has accelerated this multi-platform approach to shopping. Even consumers that have not historically been comfortable shopping online have been forced to give it a try over the past few months. Having a robust ecommerce program in place enables anyone to shop your store from the comfort of their home, thus broadening your customer base and making your products more accessible to everyone.
Kondek elaborates, “We’re in an era where many consumers are seeking to avoid in-person experiences at stores and are increasingly comfortable with online buying. But we also live in a world of rich, scalable digital tools that make online browsing, purchasing and marketing accessible. Some retailers are concerned about how they’re going to implement the infrastructure they need for ecommerce, without realizing how attainable it is.”
While ecommerce may seem completely different from selling in a store on the surface, many of the same skills are needed to effectively support consumers online. No matter where you are selling, you need to look for signals from your customer.
When someone visits your website, be sure that you are able study what they do when they get there. Which products did they look at? Which ones did they skip? If they didn’t stay on the page long, why might that be? Every site visit is an opportunity for you to deliver an engaging experience and learn more about your customers.
And just because someone leaves your site without buying doesn’t mean they’re gone for good. Through retargeted digital ads, you have the chance to stay top of mind with your customer as they continue their decision making process. But in order to do this successfully, you must think critically about all the different factors they might be weighing. When done poorly, retargeting can be infuriating. “Say a consumer is looking at a pair of shoes, don’t just show them those shoes three more times on other sites,” Kondek explains. “Show them the shoes in a new color, show them an example of a celebrity wearing the shoes—then finally, show them the shoes on sale.”
Email is another major signal from a consumer—and a great opportunity that you can concretely capitalize on. Kondek continues, “If a consumer gives you their email, give them something of value in return. Have a plan for the content that you’re going to deliver them over time and the offers you might eventually make to them.”
Each of these digital interactions offers an opportunity to build an ongoing rapport with the shopper. And when done right, they can help you build just as strong relationships with customers as the ones you create in stores.
As we continue to learn and adapt during the pandemic, launching an ecommerce platform to complement your brick-and-mortar location is key. Right now is an ideal time to get started if you haven’t already.
Because even when we come out on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic, things may never be quite the same—and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing, says Gardner. “The language of ‘I can’t wait to get back to normal’ is foolish at this point. What is normal now? It’s important to take advantage of what we can learn during this time—you are doing your business a disservice if you don’t.”