Every year, the talk about online sales becomes more prolific as e-commerce giants continue to grow, giving way to a rising number of comments foretelling the demise of brick-and-mortar businesses. But are those voices telling true or are they just amplified by the current rise of e-commerce?
Certainly, in order to compete with online retailers, brick-and-mortar stores need to adjust their financial strategies and have solid action plans in place. To that end, we asked nine members of Forbes Finance Council to share their top business strategies for brick-and-mortar businesses to keep their footing and even beat their competition. Their best answers are below:
1. Focus On Customer Service
As e-commerce booms, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for brick-and-mortar mom and pop stores to compete. They should focus on delivering good customer service and, in the Amazon era, consider price matching items to help with customer retention and loyalty. –Ben Jen, Ben Jen Holdings SLLC
2. Emphasize Customer Experience
As the high-profile failures of many venerable brick-and-mortar businesses have illustrated, it is difficult — if not impossible — to compete with online giants like Amazon on price alone. Yet even Amazon sees the value of brick-and-mortar retail — it is expected to open 3,000 Amazon Go stores by 2021. By emphasizing superior customer experience and service, traditional retailers can still compete. — Ismael Wrixen, FE International
3. Offer Speed And Convenience
Customers like speed and convenience; they also like to save. Companies should consider free ship-to-store pick up or same-day shipping. Additionally, if a customer is looking for something out-of-stock in store, allow them to make the order in-store and have it shipped to their home. Provide a service for what people need with all the information you would want, personally, as a consumer. — Greg Herlean, Horizon Trust
4. Have Proprietary Products
One of the cleverest ways I have observed retail businesses driving online and brick-and-mortar traffic is to have their own customer-valued proprietary products. Those businesses specifically say “in-store only” or “online exclusive.” This drives intentional traffic to the preferred business avenue. — Sharon Bloodworth, White Oaks Wealth Advisors
5. Improve Every Aspect Of Your Business
Brick-and-mortar businesses need to review every aspect of their business models to compete. Updated and relevant technology needs to be purchased, and staff need to be well trained for maximum efficiency. Lower inventory can reduce costs and space. Superior service and relationships with customers are critical as well. They are very loyal with a great experience. Go the extra mile; you will need to. — David Frisch, Frisch Financial Group, Inc.
6. Get Hyper-Targeted
Get hyper-targeted. It’s harder for brick-and-mortar stores to compete on price with the online businesses, so they have to compete on service or quality, which is where the hyper-niching comes in. The more niched your business becomes, the more you can gear your service or quality to that particular niche. — Justin Goodbread,Heritage Investors
7. Offer A Price Match Guarantee
Customers do not wish to feel they overpaid for anything, so competitive, transparent pricing is a must. Brick-and-mortar businesses provide an experience; unfortunately, often it is not a positive one. Unhelpful staff and finding an item could have been purchased for less online can make retail unpleasant. Have helpful staff and a price match guarantee, and once again, retail becomes the way to go. — Perry D’Alessio, D’Alessio Tocci & Pell, LLP
8. Join The Fray
With the rise of online businesses, the only way brick-and-mortars can compete is by joining the fray. Offer your products on your website and on other sites like Amazon and Jet. While you may make less online competing with the giants, you can make up for it by selling in bulk. While there’s always a need for brick-and-mortar, the need to adapt to the online environment is becoming inevitable. –Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.
9. Utilize E-commerce Tools
Brick-and-mortar stores, unlike online stores, can provide instant gratification to customers. Capitalize on this by setting aside budgets for product samples and product demonstrations. Furthermore, all brick-and-mortar shops should invest in an e-commerce presence. This gives local customers a familiar experience with shipping/in-store pickup options that can still satisfy that market segment. — Atish Davda, EquityZen
Forbes Finance Council is an invitation-only, fee-based organization for senior-level finance executives.