For a very long time, we have opposed e-commerce and retail. Now, we have realized that a consumer journey must be seen as a global experience. Consumers don’t make a distinction between online and offline. All they want is to find the best solution to their needs, while living a smooth and seamless experience. This new approach brings its share of novelties. The boundaries between digital and physical are fading, new techniques are appearing. These include web-to-store as well as other ways to increase foot traffic in stores with digital tools.
What are the advantages of using web-to-store?
Web-to-store enables brands to strengthen the strategy they have implemented in their stores by harnessing the potential of digital technologies. This phenomenon is referred to as ROPO (research online, purchase offline). These days, 91% of in-store purchases followed on from web searches. Consumers want to know what products are available before they go shopping. In fact, 40% of brands that implemented web-to-store techniques have seen their catchment area expand, and of course, their revenue increase.
Another significant advantage is the growth of their customer base. Being available online means gaining visibility and awareness. As a result, brands reach more consumers. Digital, and the development of new technologies, enable them to be more relevant when approaching internet users. By getting in touch with consumers in a more personal way, and inviting them to come in store, brands have made web-to-store an effective practice. Moreover, thanks to digital, brands can accurately measure the performance of the communication campaigns launched, and constantly learn and improve.
First technique: traditional means of communication (texts and email)
A brand can easily and quickly set up a system to send texts and emails to its customer base. The goal is to inform them, create loyalty and, ultimately, increase traffic in stores.
There are many opportunities: when launching a new collection, promotions, destocking, private sales, reopening, … It is a great technique considering that a well-targeted text, sent according to geolocation, has a 97% opening rate. And for the most part, they are read within 5 minutes of receipt.
Second technique: Geofencing and geolocation
Geofencing enables your brand not only to send a message to the right person, but also – and most importantly – at the right time. For a brand, that would be when a customer is walking by one of its stores, or in a specific radius within the store.
For geofencing to work, the said customer must have downloaded the brand’s app on his/her phone and allowed their location to be shared. Since 77% of consumers are willing to do so in exchange for real added value, brands have the ability to reach a wide audience.
How does this work in concrete terms? Let us imagine a brand has decided to hold a promotional event and someone with their app is nearby, they can send this consumer a push notification to let them know. And as it turns out, the click rate is much higher compared to usual notifications (13,6% versus 2%). So, we can say it represents a great traffic opportunity for brands.
Third technique: digital gift cards
Digital gift cards are the dematerialized version of plastic gift cards, they are the perfect way to strengthen your web-to-store strategy.
Its distinctive characteristic is that it can be saved on the brand’s application, or in the customer’s mobile wallet with other loyalty cards. That way, even if card holders haven’t downloaded the brand’s app, they can still be reached through push notifications. For example, if the recipient has received the card a while ago but hasn’t redeemed it yet, the brand can offer them to come in their stores to spend it. It can even use geofencing to be more relevant.
E-gift cards can also generate traffic in stores thanks to promotional campaigns. In this case, instead of using the traditional discount coupon, the brand can choose to give a free digital gift card of a chosen amount, redeemable in stores, with an expiry date. Since it is less intrusive, brands can quickly set themselves apart from the competition with a promotion that doesn’t seem like one. Consumers happen to be more receptive to gift cards than to coupons.
Fourth technique: contests
Because of their playful nature, contests always attract many internet users. They entertain them, all the while allowing them to discover the brand’s products. It is an ideal way to leave a lasting impression and animate a brand’s existing community.
Contests are also another way to generate traffic in their stores. How? By giving out rewards that encourage visiting. For example, an online user can win a digital gift card redeemable in one of the brand’s shops, or win a product to pick-up.
Fifth technique: online services
Developing online services, and then inviting customers to visit your stores is a great way to generate traffic and sales.
Click and collect
Click and collect is a service that has been widely adopted by consumers. It allows them to avoid waiting in line (which deters 46% of customers) and crowds (which 50% of consumers have difficulty with).
Click and collect still generates traffic in the brand’s shops, but in an effective way and with a guaranteed purchase. In fact, 40% of consumers using this service end up buying another product in addition to the one ordered online.
On the internet, brands can offer users to put aside a product they spotted on their website in the store of their choosing, provided that they have it in stock. It enables consumers to go try the product directly, without having to look for it. Their journey is faster and smoother, and it generates in-store traffic thanks to digital tools.
Nothing is more irritating than having seen a product online and not finding it in the shop afterwards. Therefore, it is worthwhile to inform online consumers of the product’s availability in stores. It will encourage them to visit your stores to see and try the product they have spotted.
Getting in touch with the brand, from web to real life
Another relevant digital service to generate in-store traffic is allowing customers to make appointments. For example, in travel agencies, or high-end boutiques, consumers can choose the shop, day and time of their visit. Since it is scheduled, consumers are guaranteed to come, and they know they will have a seamless and smooth experience. Moreover, this service has a significant advantage: making appointments increases the average shopping basket, since consumers tend to choose products or services with higher value.
Sixth technique: store locator
Nowadays, 64% of internet users look up nearby stores on Google. Geolocalized search is gaining in importance thanks to existing technologies. Therefore, it is essential to work on each store’s local page and make sure they come up first in results. The more visibility they gain on search engines, the more it will generate traffic in stores.
The same goes for websites. It is possible to show the closest store when consumers are browsing the brand’s website. Or even make it possible for them to find the shop via a dedicated landing page. To further engage consumers, it is important to work on the page’s content (opening hour, special events and promotions, address, contacts, accessibility, …).