15 Tips for Retail Success in 2013

Gone are the days when “location, location, location” was the defining ingredient for retail success. Smart phones, tablets and even social sharing have changed the way people shop. Smart brick & mortar businesses are now available on every channel their customers want to reach them. But unlike online-only businesses, they can also offer the tactile experience and trust that comes from having a physical store.

In many respects, retail is not so different now from before. Shoppers still expect the best deals, quality customer service and consistency. But 2013 also represents a significant opportunity for retailers to respond to the shift in consumer habits and the growth of mobile and social. For example:
  1. Consumer purchases on mobile devices were estimated at $5.6 billion in 2012 in Australia alone, up from $155 million in 2010
  2. One in three (31%) Australians have transacted on mobile devices
  3. 22% used a mobile device for a retail purchase over the fourth quarter of 2012.
 
We talk to a lot of brick & mortar businesses every day at Vend, and pick up insights into some of the ways innovative retailers are leveraging new technology, trends and marketplaces to succeed in 2013. So we’ve rounded up our pick of the best, and come up with 15 tips to help you hit the ground running this year.
 
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Reach customers on new channels

With cloud business apps multi-channel retail becomes a simple and manageable way to reach new customers and make more sales.

1. Optimise for smart phones

Never underestimate the value of shoppers researching your store on their mobile phones and tablets before, during or after they visit in person. Shopping carts like ShopifyMagento & BigCommerce make it easy to add a mobile optimised template. Services such as NoQ let you create beautiful, customised smart phone apps for a low monthly fee. Sign up for PayPal Here to take mobile credit card payments in the US and appear in the local listings for over 100 million global PayPal users.

2. Set up multiple online shopfronts

Branding and marketing can be a tricky business. Just because you know your products are equally suited to women in their 20s and 50s does not mean your customers are aware of it. A marketing strategy that speaks to one market segment may not speak to the other. Different shopfronts can be branded specifically to suit each target market.

More shopfronts don’t mean more workload, either. Vend partner, Bizelo allows you to sync multiple e-commerce shop fronts with your Vend account for easy centralised inventory management. What’s more, Bizelo allows you to sync Vend with Ebay or Etsy as well. Which brings us to:

3. Sell on third party marketplaces 

Take advantage of the sheer volume of traffic to third party platforms by listing key products on Ebay, Etsy or TradeMe. Direct third party customers back to your shop by clearly branding all packing materials and including a catalog or special offer in every shipment.

4. List on comparison shopping engines

Get in front of the right customers at the right time. Comparison search engines are for ready buyers looking for the right deal – which is not always just the lowest price. Sometimes it’s the best customer service record, or a great returns policy. Once again, gain repeat custom with clear branding and special offers.

Check out this article by our partner, Shopify, for an in-depth look at comparison search engines.

5. Go to the customer with pop-up & mobile shops

Location still has leverage when it comes to creating buzz and gaining spontaneous custom. Pop up shops are a great way to put your business in front of new customers and even garner some media attention. Use a pop up to sell overstocked items or as an interactive showroom to highlight your products outside of a typical retail setting.

Similarly, operating a mobile boutique in tandem with a brick and mortar shop is a great way to raise brand awareness, reach very targeted markets and accomodate your customers’ busy schedules.

A strategically placed pop up or mobile shop can be even more convenient for your customers than ordering online.

6.  Share and sell on the The Fancy 

Sitting somewhere between Pinterest and your ecommerce store, The Fancy monetizes pin-board sharing. Users are able to (some might say “impulsively”) purchase your products from The Fancy, without being diverted back to your site – and potentially interrupting the purchase.

As with Ebay or comparison engine sales, clearly brand all packaging and include marketing materials to lead shoppers back to you.

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Engage with customers on social media

Businesses have always relied on word of mouth to generate high-quality leads. Social media is word of mouth on a grand scale – but it’s also a great medium for providing awesome customer service.

7. Show off with Pinterest 

As the third most popular social network in the world, Pinterest generates a vast amount of traffic and, as it’s completely visually oriented, is an incredible source of leads for retailers. Check out Shopify’s infographic, How Pinterest Drives Online Sales.

8. Interact on Facebook 

Yes. You’ve heard it a thousand times, but Facebook isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s already everywhere – so it’s a great place for businesses. Interact with your customers, share things that are in keeping with your brand, show your personality. If it feels too distracting during the week, try planning all your posts a week in advance. There are even apps that will automatically publish your queued posts for you. (Just be sure to reply when people respond!)

Another option is to use Facebook as another retail channel (newly coined “f-commerce”) by selling products directly from your Facebook page – like Vend customer United Sweets

9. Communicate with Twitter

Twitter makes communication incredibly easy. Customers often turn to Twitter if they want to ask you a question, lodge a complaint or clue you in on a lead. Plus, Twitter feeds are not as difficult to negotiate as the feeds on Facebook. You’re quite likely to appear regularly in your followers’ newsfeeds.

10. Tie your socials together with Instagram

With over 100 million users and a very share-friendly design, Instagram is great for tying together all your social media platforms. Automatically tweet and Facebook each photo, then pin to Pinterest, too. Photo contests via Instagram are also a great way to interact with your customers and keep them engaged.

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Market your business online, on a budget.

As the world gets smaller, your reach gets bigger. Here are some tools to help you successfully market your business locally and internationally.

11. List with Google Places and other directories

If you sell cupcakes in Seattle, Washington it is easy make sure your business appears when searchers Google “cupcakes Seattle.” Listing with Google Places is easy and free. And if you really want to cover your bases, try listing your business in a few of these local business directories as well.  

12. Encourage social media sharing

Add links to your main socials so customers can easily follow you and engage with you on multiple levels. If your Facebook is one click from your website or e-store, customers are more likely to click through and build a clearer idea of you as retailer.

You could even consider paring social sharing buttons with your most popular products and blog posts. Once they are in place, get in there and start sharing to get things going. No social media strategy should ever be passive.

Make it as easy for people to share your business as it is not to. Word of mouth is still the best source of quality leads for any business, particularly when those words have an audience upscaled by social media. 

13. Blog. Then blog some more

Trust and relationships are more important than ever when it comes to winning over customers online. When a potential customer can see you’re a person – or a team of people – they’ll be more inclined to relate with you and trust your business. Plus, blogs are a great accessory to successful SEO.

14. Optimise for search engines (SEO)

Search engine optimisation sometimes feels like quackery shrouded in mystery. But it’s not as difficult to learn and implement as you might think. Take a free crash course in SEO and get started today.

15. Try Adwords

Google’s successful pay-per-click (PPC) platform has a number of tools geared towards brick & mortar and local businesses, including location targeting, integration with Google places, and now, available in a small number of countries, Adwords Express.

Find out how Vend is helping brick & mortar retailers all over the world build successful businesses in 2013 and beyond.

About Tara Benedict

A former retailer (and unabashed nerd) who daydreamed about integrated POS software, Tara now delightedly recruits, promotes, and enables Vend's wonderful channel of add-ons and partners. An ardent sharer of Vend news and events, connect with Tara on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ and never miss an opportunity to meet up with the affable Vend team.

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