It almost goes without saying that modern retail has moved beyond physical stores, but quite a lot has changed since the days when Amazon first appeared on the scene. Today, consumers fluidly move between online and offline, with online bearing many complexities. The most successful retailers can not only compete, but win if they employ the following two strategies.
Manage Your Listings & Reputation Across Channels
When prospective or existing customers are trying to find you, they will almost certainly perform a search. The question is where will they look? Your website? Google Search? Apple Maps? Find you on Instagram? Listing management ensures you have comprehensive online listings across all major sites and boosts your rankings in search; you want to show up first when potential customers look for what you offer.
Beyond name, address, and phone number, you need to push menus, photos, and promotions to platforms such as Google My Business. According to Yelp, adding additional information doubles profile views on average. Rich profiles also improve the ability to convert viewers into shoppers when they land on your business profile, providing that double benefit. Maintaining your listings can be a tedious task to do manually when you own dozens or hundreds of locations. There are dedicated listing management services and even some forward-looking point of sale systems that directly handle this through integrations with the major local listing providers. Managing listings can be turned into an automated passive activity that ‘just works’ in the background.
Reputation management, the act of building and monitoring your online reviews, is a similarly vital task required to win new customers. What’s the point of having an accurate listing if it comes with bad reviews? Not surprisingly, 90% of people check online reviews before visiting a new business, but more shocking is that each 1-star change in the average online rating will impact revenue by as much as 9%. Having a software system that monitors reviews across all locations and alerts you to review trends that need your attention. Your appointment scheduling or POS solution can automatically prompt customers to leave a review. Even if you previously had many 5-star reviews, you have to keep current as savvy consumers have learned to focus on the most recent ones.
Offer the Ability to Transact Across Channels
Retailers have to think beyond their website and mobile apps to web search, social media, review sites, digital assistants, texts, and instant messaging. These are the channels connecting the modern consumer. While many retailers have done a great job marketing through these channels, it’s more difficult to book and purchase from them. Our research indicates that 43% of online appointments are booked after hours and 25% of online bookings happen through search and social media. Not integrating with Google Reserve or Book through Instagram potentially ignores a quarter of your business, most of which are valuable millennial clients, the foundation of your future customer base. Modern appointment scheduling and point of sale systems can make it possible to interact and purchase from your business across all channels your customers use.
While it can feel overwhelming to manage your business and customer base across so many different channels, this is exactly where intelligently designed software can give you a competitive edge. Next generation point of sale systems are using APIs to connect their systems into the broader commerce ecosystem to create a truly unified experience for your customers.
-Ethan Anderson, Founder and CEO, MyTime Ethan is the Founder & CEO of MyTime, a startup that allows consumers to find and book appointments from over 2.5 million nearby businesses. He is also a mentor for 500 Startups and an advisor at Apartment List. Previously, he was Cofounder & CEO of Redbeacon, which allowed consumers to request bids for home services. Redbeacon was venture backed and won numerous awards including the Grand Prize at the 2009 TechCrunch50 competition and Business Insider's Startup 2010 before being acquired by The Home Depot. Prior to Redbeacon, Ethan worked at Google as Product Manager for Image Search and Google Video. Ethan also worked in a number of internet strategy and marketing roles at The Clorox Company, Buy.com, and McKinsey & Company. He graduated with Honors from Harvard Business School and Magna Cum Laude from Duke University, where he studied Economics and Public Policy Studies.