‘Vampire’ marketers are sucking the lifeblood out of more and more traditional businesses. Is your brick-and-mortar business in danger of becoming just another showroom for aggressive on-line marketers?
On-line retailers enjoy some significant advantages – breadth of selection, shop-from-home convenience, and sometimes lower prices – our VAMPIRE MARKETING 1 talked about several of the most problematic ones for brick-and-mortar marketers. Yes, there’s a challenge …
So, what can you do if you’re one of those businesses in danger of losing customers to on-line retailers? What if you’re already, like Best Buys, feeling the pinch, if your brick-and-mortar store is beginning to feel like a showroom for Amazon? The short and simple answer is “Provide something that customers really like, that the on-line competitors can’t provide.” Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Buyers of expensive or complex products or services often value expert advice, explanation, and comparison of alternatives. Make sure that your employees have the training, experience and personal skills to educate your customers more comfortably and effectively than customers can educate themselves.
2. Many standardized products or service (like computers, home entertainment systems or personal car insurance) can be enhanced (and valued up!) with options and accessories that on-line shoppers may overlook. In-store ‘lookers’ are less likely to walk away and become internet buyers, if your employees can intelligently advise them and assemble a customized package of attractive features.
3. Court those customers who will always prefer to pay by cash or check, or who are reluctant to commit their personal information to the internet. If your policies and procedures make it difficult for potential customers to hand their cash or check to you, they’re likely to find another place to spend their $$$.
4. Make sure that customer who prefer to shop the internet have an attractive option for shopping with you. Seamlessly integrate your web and brick-and-mortar presence. If your business is only brick-and-mortar – or only internet – you’re ignoring a large segment of the buying public that prefers the other.
5. Indulge internet buyers’ urge for ‘instant gratification’ by offering personalization – like on-line or telephone chat and in-store pick up of on-line orders.
Finally, recognize that some products and service categories are natural fits for web commerce, and no amount of ingenuity or effort can reverse the migration from brick-and-mortar business to the internet. If that’s the future you face, the earlier you think through your options and formulate a plan, the more likely you are to thrive by managing the modernization of your business on your own schedule, not that dictated by your competitors.
1. Evolve your business toward products and services with high customization and personal attention content. Adopt an unsentimental willingness to phase out your traditional offerings and introduce new offerings to your customers.
2. Focus on and cater to the small but high value niche of customers who will continue to demand – and pay for – customized, personal service and hands-on shopping.
Need help getting started? Contact an independent consultant like Marketing Intelligence & Strategy Assoc.