Offline Sales Tips for Online Merchants
Many brick-and-mortar stores have achieved success in doing their business online. But the trend has reversed somewhat lately. Pure-play e-commerce companies are finding success with physical stores. The topic was addressed last month, in “E-commerce Merchants Embrace Brick-and-mortar.” The cited example of Warby Parker in the article, tells us that having locations for customers to try on glasses led to higher conversions.
In this post, I will give three offline sales tips.
Cash on Delivery for Online Merchants
The trend of mobile payments makes cash on delivery much easier. Columnist, Richard Stubbings, reviewed potential scenarios for this. Using a mobile payment platform, merchants can offer cash on delivery at checkout and allow shoppers to return the product or in other words, they can refuse to accept it right at their door. This option is better than the traditional delivery, wherein customers have to initiate a return.
Merchants can improve this service further by allowing customers to choose their delivery date while they order. Many e-commerce platforms, including WooCommerce, have plugins for this.
I created a cash-on-delivery functionality for a local meat supplier with no physical retail space. It permitted the supplier to combine orders and make it worthwhile to drive a few hours, fulfilling around 50 deliveries.
If merchants integrate online and offline sales in a single accounting, inventory, and payment system, cash on delivery will become administratively much easier. Inventory management was the biggest challenge for a large kayak retailer, I worked for. It had two systems: online sales and offline. These systems were lacking compatibility and synchronization. The retailer would sell an item offline (in the physical store) and the website would show it as available for sale until a manual update was complete.
Offering cash on delivery is also helpful at trade shows, farmer’s markets, and other offline events.
The meat supplier, whom I mentioned above, started sending SMS delivery notifications to customers. Few days before that multi-hour drive, the supplier sends text notices to all applicable customers stating the date and approximate time of the upcoming delivery. Many of these customers would then place additional orders from the supplier’s website; increasing the profitability of the delivery.
Twilio can facilitate these SMS notices. It integrates with most e-commerce platforms, including WooCommerce via a plugin.
Last year, I gave my eldest daughter a ski pass for Christmas. The problem was that the pass was digital – provided nothing physical for her to open, unlike gift box. It was a missed opportunity by our local ski resort, which could have offered a solution such as PDF Product Vouchers, a WooCommerce plugin.
Merchants can design attractive, printable vouchers for gifts which allow them to leverage PDF Vouchers or similar products. This idea ameliorates a basic invoice or receipt into something memorable to the customer and the person who is receiving the gift.