8 Ways to Drive Traffic from Your Local Store to Your E-commerce Store

BY: ON MONDAY, JUNE 26, 2017

Today’s headlines are screaming about the demise of brick-and-mortar retail, yet at the same time Amazon is opening up retail outlets. Further, Best Buy, which seemed to be on life support not too long ago has emerged as one of the bright stars in the legacy retail world.

These seemingly contradictory developments are explained by this fact: Forward-looking retail leaders understand that tomorrow’s winners will implement strategies that leverage the advantages of both online and retail shopping. Forward-looking retail leaders understand that tomorrow’s winners will implement strategies that leverage the advantages of both online and retail shopping.

And, since traditional retail is the most threatened by these currents, local store owners need to get busy implementing a complementary online strategy. If you need more convincing, look at the online shopping stats. There is a growing group of e-commerce devotees who make more than half the purchases online, and overall, digital sales are increasing by more than 23 percent every year. Further, most of the next generation (67 percent) prefer to shop online rather than go to a store.

Tragically, many local stores still don’t have a website, which is inexcusable today. With DIY web building services like Shopify and others, creating an online storefront has never been easier or more affordable. So with your e-commerce site online, the question becomes: how can you turn local customers toward your website and give them yet another opportunity to purchase your products and services?

1. Word of Mouth

"Have you seen our website?" One of the simplest and most direct ways to drive customers toward your e-commerce site is to mention it as they check out. A card, pamphlet, or brochure slipped into their bag with their purchase can help them remember to check out your online deals once they get home.

However, if you really want to sell your customers on your website, you'll have to do better than "we have a website." Your e-commerce store will not only need a killer design and great products, but you should have some strong promotions and awesome deals going at the same time – in other words, make your e-commerce website irresistible.

2. Online Deals

While it may not apply to every product or situation, making certain items cheaper on your e-commerce site is one of the simplest and most efficient ways to get customers clicking. Whether it's a coupon, online code, or personal referral, a sweet online deal could turn a local customer into a website customer or “hybrid” customer with a minimum of fuss and expense.

3. Loyalty Programs

A loyalty program is a powerful way to drive local customers to your website. It doesn't have to be complicated or difficult to implement and in fact, it really shouldn't be. Just set up your e-commerce website so customers get a discount when they sign up, make a purchase, and/or refer a friend. The more incentives you provide, the more local and website traffic you're likely to get. If you can make the rewards run both ways, chances are good your customers will shop both locally and online to capture all the great deals you offer.

4. QR Codes

For your technically astute, smartphone-wielding customers, QR codes are a good way to drive customer traffic to a website. QR codes are easy to generate, and users can scan a QR code with their smartphone and load your e-commerce site, a specific product page, a specially designed landing page, or a coupon immediately.

Many businesses already get a lot of mileage out of QR codes by including them on the backs of business cards. But why not go one step further for your local store? QR codes don't have to go to the main page of your website – why not include QR codes that pair local products with online counterparts, or offer an online deal to shoppers savvy enough to do a quick scan while they're browsing your store shelves? This will reward smart shopping and make your customers feel like they've successfully scouted out a great deal.

5. The Upsell

Another tried-and-true tactic for driving local customers to your website is to offer an "upgrade" or other incentive for signing up or making a purchase on your e-commerce site. This may require some clever salesmanship on your part, but giving customers the chance to get a good deal on something they don’t know they want is a classic sales technique. Making the upgrade exclusive to the website is only a slight variation of the formula.

6. Exclusive Products

A close cousin to the upsell, the "website exclusive" might be a little riskier, but increased sales often make it worthwhile. Make some items exclusive to the website, and don't sell them in your local store – but be sure your customers know these exclusive products are available, and make it easy to get them. (This is where those QR codes can come in handy.) Bargain hunters and customers who love a little challenge will love you for it.available, and make it easy to get them. (This is where those QR codes can come in handy.) Bargain hunters and customers who love a little challenge will love you for it.

By the way, this may be one key to Best Buy’s success. The tech retailer offers products on its website that are unavailable at local stores. These items can be shipped free of charge to the local store for pickup…and the opportunity for a sales associate to do some upselling.

7. Tablets in the Store

Tablets may be the new “storefront,” so this is a movement you need to take advantage of. Load up a few tablet PCs with your website and display them securely in a prominent area of your local store where users can see them. Let shoppers browse your e-commerce site at their leisure and find your exclusive deals, online coupons, and great products. The odds are good that they'll not only find something new they want to purchase while they're there, they'll probably make a mental note to return to your website.

8. Social Media

Contrary to what some might believe, social media can be a very local phenomenon. Facebook pages attract local customers and are one of the best places to connect with the local community. Twitter and Instagram can be fertile ground for getting in touch with customers (both existing and potential) and building a positive reputation. If the idea of managing multiple social media accounts seems daunting, there’s social media management software like Hootsuite and Buffer that can ease your burden.

Obviously, your local store's signage, literature, business cards, and other materials can and should include all the social media accounts where you are active.

A Holistic Approach

While any one of these tactics can be effective by itself, they tend to work best when integrated and used together. After all, today both “web rooming” and “showrooming” are popular with shoppers. Some shoppers try things in stores and buy them online. Others research online and then go to a local store to make the purchase. You need to be ready to accommodate both, while you understand that the general trend is toward online shopping.

Image via Shutterstock

About the Author

Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. As a small business expert, Megan specializes in reporting the latest business news, helpful tips and reliable resources, as well as providing small business advice.

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