It seems we are working our way out of the introduction phase of life during a pandemic and entering the phase where we start to adapt. The past few months have brought some sales challenges to light based on how customers want to do business moving forward: digitally. It is important to remember that your website is your digital storefront and you need to invest in the customer experience. It can feel like a lot is changing very quickly, but there are tools to help you work efficiently and effectively online. Below you will find recommendations on how to utilize some of these fundamental tools to align with your businesses needs.
The biggest concern we are hearing right now is about safety. Shoppers need to feel secure if they are going to be in a public place and need options to make a purchase if they can’t be.
Tool: Website/Facebook/Google My Business (GMB)
Application: Create a small display banner with messaging that confirms you are practicing safety and sanitation measures in stores and with all employees. Make sure people are aware before they even start shopping. Canva is a great free place to create images if you do not have someone to help you with that.
Tool: Facebook Appointment Scheduler
Application: Some shoppers may request to come in during off-hours or at a time dedicated to having fewer customers in the store. Use the Facebook Appointment Scheduler to allow shoppers to set up a time they feel safe to shop. You can advertise the availability of this on Facebook and your website.
Tool: Google Merchant Center
Application: Make it easier for customers to view in-stock inventory online. You can connect inventory feeds to Google Merchant Center and have products available for shopping ads in your PPC campaign. This will allow actual inventory to show on Google when shoppers are looking for a particular item.
Cost: Free with use of PPC campaign
Tool: e-Commerce Shopping Cart
Application: Now more than ever, people want to shop online rather than coming into the store. Make it simple. We don’t want to lose customers to a store that offers this!
Cost: Varies. Check with your website provider first for options.
An unforeseen obstacle at the beginning of COVID is the impact on inventory. It can be difficult to deliver custom furniture, and we really want to focus on what is available on the showroom floor.
Tool: Social media
Application: Create photos and videos and post them frequently! Facebook, Instagram and even GMB allow ease for sharing. All you need is a smart phone; professional content is not necessary here. Invite people to engage with your posts and encourage setting appointments to view the inventory.
Cost: Free. Boosted posts for small budgets also available.
Application: Managing back orders has moved up on the priority list and communication to customers about order status is key in satisfaction. Create templates in your email to quickly pull content. Updates should be as simple as customer name, product name and expected ship date. You can also track this information in a spreadsheet and upload once a week to tools like Mail Chimp or Constant Contact to create all emails at once to save you a lot of time. Your POS may also have an email feature you can utilize in the same way.
Cost: Free. Additional tools vary depending on size of contact list.
With fewer people coming into the stores, it can be hard to have a conversation. This makes it difficult to help people find exactly what they are looking for, answer questions and address any concerns that may help you close a sale. It can also be difficult for shoppers to make decisions if they can’t see inventory in person.
Application: Install a chat service on your website to allow your sales team to engage directly with your client base. Podium is a very popular choice in this space. These tools are simple to use and provide analytics feedback to help improve levels of service.
Tool: Video conferencing
Application: Take the conversation one step further and go live with your customers! Not only can a face-to-face conversation be more productive, but it allows you to show customers inventory to give them a better idea of what they want to purchase. This is a great option for both sales and design consultations. There are a lot of options, including Zoom, Google Meet and Join.me. Don’t be afraid to invest in a couple of tablets to make this easier on your sales team. All you need is an internet connection to make these tools work.
Cost: Many free options
There are a lot of tools that can require an array of investment for digital marketing. Online shopping has increased more than 40 percent since the start of the year and it’s important that you have a strong presence and show in searches. Platforms include Google Ads, Facebook Ads and YouTube Ads. There are some low-to-no- cost ways you can get started to make sure you are not missing the boat completely.
Tool: Facebook Marketplace and Chat
Application: Share your inventory directly to FB. Shoppers with intent will look here and not realize there are a lot of new options within their price range. You can engage directly with your client base as well through Chat and encourage them to set an appointment.
Cost: Free. There may be a small fee if you choose to connect an inventory feed.
Application: Did you know you can post photos of your inventory directly to the products section in GMB? You can link those photos directly to the inventory page on your website as well. These photos get a lot of views (some stores see more than 500 one just one photo in a month) and increase your SEO as well!
Application: Sometimes the cost of a PPC campaign can seem overwhelming, but you can utilize the Display Networks and get in front of shoppers for a much lower cost. You can target new shoppers based on their online behavior, as well as re-target shoppers who have been to your website. This should be managed by an SEM provider.
Cost: Varies depending on campaign, but you can get started for as little as $200 a month.
There are countless tools available to help you connect with your customers online. The ones listed above are a great place to start. These will help build a foundation, and from there you have the opportunity to really expand your reach and utilization. The online optimization process is ongoing, complex and ever-changing. Phelps Digital is here to help you better understand and implement these tools, so please reach out if you have questions!
[HFA Webinar: The game has changed for in-store sales]