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Tech Guest Viewpoint: Using E-Commerce to Boost In-Store Purchases


By Brian Mell, BannerView

It has been more than 20 years since e-commerce truly was born, and since that breakthrough it has allowed retail to expand greatly. Innovations in mobile technology have further strengthened retailers’ position, and their relationships with customers. As a result, retailers that have fully embraced e-commerce have enjoyed the benefits of reaching a wider audience. Yet, many wonder if that technology can also enhance the in-store experience. The answer can be found in how the individual approaches e-commerce.

The sharing of experience makes all the difference in the success or failure of an establishment. Whether a restaurant, hotel or retail outlet, word of mouth remains one of the more successful ways of promoting a business. Social media allows customers to share, in their own words, the experience had and even enables them to sometimes communicate directly with the business.

Review websites allow much of the same, giving satisfied and dissatisfied customers alike a venue in which to share their findings with other consumers. Clearly, since experience is what drives these customers promote (or warn others concerning) a business, it is the key to boosting in-store purchases.

The “E” in E-Commerce is for Experience

Statistics show that amazingly, over 90% of all online shopping carts are abandoned by theuser before they reach the checkout. Would a shopper do so if they had a greatexperience? It’s possible, but unlikely. This astonishing statistic shows that there is plenty of room for improvement regarding e-commerce.

Improving the online experience is the first step to increasing visitation to a business’s physical location(s). Website speed, navigation and functionality are among the things that greatly affect the user experience. If any aspect doesn’t go smoothly, it decreases the likelihood that the consumer will buy online, and further decreases the chance they’ll visit a physical location. Once the purchase funnel from ads to landing page to checkout process to delivery is solidified into one, seamless process, the online portion of the business can actually help build the in-store attendance.

The “E” in E-Commerce is for Email

The death of email has been touted almost since its inception. Yet, email still provides the best response out of all online promotional tactics, including social media. In fact, 86% of digital marketers surveyed by Gigaom used email regularly, with 41% saying it was most effective for building awareness.

Email marketing starts (again) with the experience. Showing expertise through thoughtful andtimely blog posts brings customers back to your website for more information. If they like thearticles presented, they will happily fill out the newsletter subscribe form that you’ve conveniently placed on your blog. You’re now on your way to building a sizable mailing list. Just remember to make your email marketing mobile friendly, since more and more consumers are visiting blogs and other sites from their mobile devices.

The “E” in E-Commerce is for Event

If a store is empty as you walk through, would you feel comfortable shopping there?Maybe if it’s relatively new, but after three months, that lack of activity might be an indicator that something isn’t working. Grand openings get the community alerted. Yet, once the buzz dies down, what’s next? Planning events months in advance of the initial opening can help strengthen and hold the connection with customers attracted by the initial one.

Using social media in conjunction with a website is a great way to showcase these in-storeevents and invite customers to attend. Documenting these happenings through images and videos posted to your social networks, blog and email newsletter builds interest in attending the next event. Couple that with in-store promotions emailed to your subscribers, as well as offering online event registration increases the overall effectiveness of the promotion.

As you can see, e-commerce is more than just the sale of products and services online. E-commerce provides the functionality for making an online purchase. To truly use it as a way ofbuilding in store purchases, it should be supported with a finely tuned website experience,social media and an email marketing campaign. Together, these elements can provide a strong vehicle with which to position both online and in store sales for tremendous growth.

Brian Mell is Digital Marketing Manager of BannerView.
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