How e-commerce affects local business

We have written a lot about the affecting coronavirus at the e-commerce growth. But not only the pandemic contributes to such popularity of an online business.

Consumers are now glued to their phones and use the internet in their daily lives. This creates an ideal environment for digital marketing and advanced analytics, allowing online stores to make the most personalized offer.

It is suitable for a buyer, too. Accurate product information, reviews, and comparisons enable him to quickly make an informed buying decision. A well-designed e-commerce site directs them to a purchase that takes a few clicks, and then the order is delivered within 24 hours or even the same day. That saves the buyer time.
But no matter how convenient online shopping is, offline does not go anywhere. People need access to groceries at their nearest store for a variety of reasons:

  • Quickly buy a product "here and now," for example, bread for dinner or cookies for tea;
  • Social interaction. Sometimes you want to chat with a live seller;
  • The ability to see and touch the product;
  • In-store brand experience, especially if it's an innovative brand that uses entertainment mechanics;
  • It is easier to return or use an after-sales service.
Thus, a small convenience store competes with large marketplaces one way or another. It is closer to the consumer. But there is a problem: these consumers are not always aware of the availability of goods in the nearest store. While in an online store, he sees the remains of the goods in stock right in the product card. Offline store visitors may not even know that the goods they are looking for are sold here.

There is a solution, and it consists of an omnichannel strategy. Any local store also needs an online representation. And this online department has to be tightly integrated with offline, providing customers with a seamless user experience. This means that Internet users should easily find a store on Google maps and go there to pick up their online orders. The "Where to buy" button is a simple required tool in the product card. This tool can be implemented in the form of a list of offline stores or a more innovative solution where a retailer uses customer location data to show availability at a nearby store.

Let's consider three key points to help local retailers compete effectively with marketplaces.

Use geolocation and proximity to the buyer

Geolocation-based marketing can be one of the main drivers of your traffic and direct sales.

In addition to integrating the relevant technology into the site, geolocation-based marketing also includes advertising to an audience within a certain radius of the offline store. By tracking a customer's location, a business can attract new clients nearby, remind existing consumers about itself, implement loyalty programs, track visitors of nearby local businesses, and so on.

Geolocation saves companies time and money and improves the effectiveness and results of their campaigns.

Create an omnichannel strategy

Many customers prefer to buy in the local brick-and-mortar store rather than online, but the most successful brands leverage different sales channels. True omnichannel looks something like this: a customer saw a product on a social network, clicked through it and ordered on the website, picked up the product at a store closest to their home, and then exchanged it for a different size in a store near the office.

A true omnichannel approach ensures that the brand interacts with the customer all the time, online and offline, without the customer noticing the transition from one channel to another.

Please note that this is exactly what the largest marketplaces are striving for by opening pick-up points in each residential area.

Transform constantly

Going online and implementing an omnichannel strategy is not the pinnacle of local store development. Changes must be permanent and systemic to meet the demands of a changing market. One of the options for this transformation is to provide additional value to the client. For example, in addition to selling furniture, business can provide assembly services. In addition to selling bread for dinner, a store could give the opportunity to order a big wedding cake. In combination with a network of local stores and and well-designed back-office IT system, such additional services will allow a small local store to become a full-fledged retail ecosystem in the future.
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