By Taylor Smithfield
E-commerce. M-commerce. Shmem-commerce. Okay that last one isn’t actually a thing, but marketers love to coin new terms so who’s to say it couldn’t be one day?
In all seriousness, as trends shift every year — no, every day — you attempt to keep up with the changes. Some trends yield positive results for your business and others are potentially negative. Either way, they keep you on your toes. So it’s no surprise we’re now being told specifying the type of commerce (e- [electronic] commerce and m- [mobile] commerce) is fast becoming like a vestigial organ; it’s simply not necessary anymore.
Here’s why. Ever heard the saying if you live long enough you’ll experience the second life of a trend? Well, you’ve made it to the year marketing bloggers have started using the word “commerce” in their posts more. Yes, plain Jane, stripped back, stag-at-the-prom commerce. No letter in the alphabet preceding it.
Less Walls, More Bridges
This is great news for dealers. Why? Because it shows retailers are shifting their focus to a broader consumer landscape. It’s not just about online shopping or mobile shopping, but more shopping in general. And it means there’s still plenty of value in the brick-and-mortar storefront.
According to a recent study conducted by RetailMeNot, 72 percent of retailers are using mobile marketing to push in-store sales. Not only that, but they’re viewing mobile and in-store marketing as one form of communication — rather than two.1
“Retailers are no longer thinking in channel silos,” says Marissa Tarleton, CMO of RetailMeNot. “Delivering an experience that meets the consumer in the moment across the shopping journey will be the pathway to success for brands.”
Learning how to make the increasingly complex shopping journey more seamless for customers will be a primary goal for many retailers this year. So, how can you create the best retail experience for customers while capitalizing on this brick-and-mortar friendly trend? Shift your thinking. Break down walls and build bridges between the internet and your physical store. Think of the internet as “step one” in your customer’s purchase journey.
Take Stock Of Inventory
With the internet just a few taps away for customers, it’s no surprise shopping decisions begin online. Whether someone organically stumbles across an ad or intentionally pulls up product reviews, the retailer is influencing their decision-making. How many times have you conducted a recon mission to gather intel on a new product before committing to purchase or even handling it
in-store? It’s extremely useful to have a store’s inventory at the tips of your fingers.
The Ecommerce Foundation conducted a survey at the end of 2017, and their data suggests 88 percent of people “pre-research” their buys online before making a purchase.2
If someone in your city conducts a Google search for a LaserMax GripSense Laser for their GLOCK 42, will your store show up in the results? If someone else does a broad search for gun stores in their area, where will your store fall in the order? Seventy-six percent of people who search for a product nearby will visit the business selling it within a day.3 So, a Google search shows serious intent to purchase. This means if your store’s inventory isn’t online, sales may be lost.
Conduct An Online Audit
Last month, we discussed how to claim a business on Yelp and Google in order to monitor and interact with reviews. It’s also important to make sure the basic information listed on these sites is up-to-date (business name, location, phone number and website). Likewise, more detailed information — like your business category, description and some photos — can be added. The more your store is set apart from others in a search result, the more likely it is to entice a customer into your store. Review the accuracy of your information across the internet at sites like Google, Yelp, Bing, Yahoo!, MapQuest, Foursquare, etc. Conducting a search engine audit is one of the easiest steps to take, and yet it’s one many businesses still neglect!
(Editor’s Note: To read last month’s Outdoor Marketplace column, visit www.shootingindustry.com/reviews-rule-our-decision-making.)
Optimize Your Ranking
You may have heard of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) before. SEO is simply how successful a site is at showing up first in an online search. Because the majority of people will stumble upon your site from a Google search, it’s important to make sure it’s compatible with search engines. What does this mean?
Managing SEO is as simple as having your webmaster optimize the site. Most web developers do this for every site they build, but there are always ways to increase SEO. One of the most common ways to show up on the first page of search results is to use keywords — search terms potential customers might use. Naturally, the more accurate the keywords the better. Do your part by writing site content to include these keywords. In addition, all web URLs should include keywords relating to the specific page.
Because your website is often the first interaction a customer has with you, it’s essential it leaves a fantastic first impression. Does your site load quickly? Is it mobile-friendly? Is it easy to search and navigate? Are prices and specs clearly listed? Your site’s usability can greatly influence a customer’s shopping experience, so it’s no longer considered a nice addition to a retail setup — it’s become the bridge to your brick-and-mortar.