In the early 2000s, many economists predicted the death of brick and mortar retail as Internet shopping gained momentum, and while the shuttering of stores like Circuit City and Barnes and Noble seemed to mean the prediction was correct, the existence and continued use of physical retail stores in the Digital Age has remained surprisingly consistent.
That being said, keeping up in the Digital Age isn’t the same game it was back in the ‘90s, and if your store has been losing traction here of late, staying passive about it is the wrong move. Here are six reasons your brick and mortar retail store might be losing traction, and what to do about it.
1. You Have a Lousy Website
One mistake retails stores that don’t sell on the World Wide Web can make is assuming that a website is a secondary concern. While it’s true that customers have to come into your store to actually look at what you’re selling and make a purchase, according to Google three out of four shoppers do research on the Internet to find the information they need before stepping into a local store.
In other words, your website is how people find you. If your site isn’t good enough to function as a calling card, a commercial, a customer service tool, a catalogue, and a marketing campaign, you need to improve it.
2. Your Displays Are Lackluster
Once you get a customer into your store, what do they experience? Is your lighting helpful but not harsh? Is what you’re selling presented in a way that is pleasing and intriguing? Are your store fixtures in good shape? Are they clean and stable?
The ways in which your products are displayed to potential customers has a lot to do with whether or not those potential customers become actual customers. Don’t cut corners on this one. Get what you need from a reputable company like M. Fried Store Fixtures.
3. Weak SEO
Another reason you may be losing traction in your retail store is because your SEO tactics might not be up to snuff. Just as you need a good website to draw people in to your physical store, so also do you need solid SEO in order to drive people from search engines to your website. To that end, employ the following practices:
- Get rolling with Google My Business.
- Get natural and local links by joining the BBB, Angie’s List, and other local Web resources.
- Blog on a regular basis.
- Build a social media presence and tend to it daily.
4. Poor Customer Service
Bad customer service will kill your business. Mediocre customer service will, too — it just takes longer. One of the reasons your retail store may be losing traction is because the atmosphere cultivated by your employees isn’t one that potential customers find easy, enjoyable, and welcoming. So, spend some time asking yourself the following:
- How are customers treated when they walk in your store?
- Are they greeted by your staff in a friendly and welcoming manner?
- Do they feel as though your staff is available to assist them at any moment?
- Is your staff knowledgeable enough to answer nearly any question that may arise?
- Does your staff leave potential customers be if they’re “just looking?”
- Does your staff enjoy their jobs?
Whether you need to do some more training or some firing and hiring, don’t let poor customer service ruin your business.
5. Online and Offline are in Disconnect
Another reason your sales may be suffering is because your online presence and your physical store offer up different realities. Whether your branding on the two is different or the specials and sales you’re running on your website ended at your physical store six months ago, a disconnect between your online and offline worlds will drive away customers. Spend some time getting the two in concert, and once they are, keep them that way.
6. You Haven’t Optimized for Mobile
More and more people are turning to the mobile web to solve problems like: Where in my town should I buy socks and eat dinner? Where should I rent carpet cleaning equipment and buy used records? If your website isn’t optimized for mobile, you’re missing out on a whole lot of local traffic.
Whether you just retool the site you have so that it loads on smartphones and tablets, or you build a completely new site that works with all screen sizes and operating systems, make sure your website uses adaptive or responsive design, so the potential customer on her iPhone can find you.
There’s no reason for your physical retail store to go the way of the dodo. By optimizing for mobile, improving customer service, and the like, you too can enjoy a long and healthy business well beyond the Internet Age.