How retail can survive the rise of Amazon and eCommerce with local SEO
Sure. Most sales are made at physical store locations. But that doesn’t mean retailers aren’t feeling pressure from the exponential growth of eCommerce and the growing need to compete with the world’s digital transformation. With Amazon leading the charge, brick-and-mortar retailers can no longer ignore that an increasingly large share of people’s wallets are opening up online.
The threat of a complete Amazon and online shopping takeover was once in the distant horizon. However, the reality is that location-based brands can no longer wait to innovate for the modern customer, and they need to innovate fast!
To illustrate the reality of Amazon’s domination: Nearly $1 out of every $2 spent online currently flows through Amazon. One top investment firm has even created its own “Death by Amazon” index that tracks the stock prices of 54 retail chains they believe are most threatened by the online retailer.
No one is safe as Amazon continues to expand into even more areas of retail. From grocery stores to auto parts to fashion retailers, the number of companies under threat is growing. It’s not just the small to medium sized retailers who are hurting either. The enterprise retail giants are hurting too as household retail brand names like Sears, Gap, JCPenny, and Bed, Bath, and Beyond have all faced or filed for bankruptcy.
A Brick and Mortar Retailer’s Secret Weapon
With all the doom and gloom, retailers may be stuck thinking there’s not much they can do to fend off the eCommerce boom, but quite the contrary, brick-and-mortar retailers have had a secret weapon hiding in their arsenal this entire time: their physical locations!
If retailers simply look to improve their eCommerce offerings and compete with Amazon online, they may quickly find themselves in the wake of Amazon destruction. However, leverage the one area where Amazon physically can’t compete and you have the opportunity to not only weather the rise of eCommerce, but continue to thrive.
A physical presence is so crucial that even Amazon has begun to concede to the necessity of having one. Between ironically opening a number of bookstores, as well as Amazon Go – the first cashierless convenience store – Amazon’s commitment to compete head-to-head with brick-and-mortar retailers is starting to grow.
In some cases, the marketing efforts of retail seem to be reflecting that they have begun to see the advantages and opportunities that a physical location provides. During the holidays, Nordstrom had special parties for its loyal customers, and Walmart also had special in-store events.
Just a few years ago, our clients were pushing more and more business to their website for e-commerce transactions, but now they are rethinking that strategy because they can’t and won’t win against the Amazon engine. It’s very difficult to differentiate online. But they can differentiate completely with great in-store experiences.
4 Local SEO Strategies For More Retail Store Foot Traffic
Emphasize on the In-Store Experience
The majority of customers that shop in-store are coming for one type of experience or another. It may be the tangible experience of touching and feeling products, the atmosphere of the store itself or the experience of engaging with store associates. Regardless of why customers choose to shop in-store, it is imperative that brick-and-mortar retailers place an emphasis on delivering a great overall in-store experience.
How can you deliver the type of experience that has customers raving and coming back time and time again? The short answer is to listen to what they have to say. Retailers already have volumes of local customer data in their possession in the form of customer reviews. Local SEO tools like review monitoring and sentiment analysis can help you gain a better understanding of what’s working at your stores and what is not. Retailers can then use this understanding to improve the in-store experience in the ways in which customers have actually requested.Download the Reputation Management Guide for Retail
Creating unique and great experiences will not only have those customers coming back, but they are much more likely to leave great reviews for your stores, which will then have a huge effect on increasing your rankings and getting in front of other potential customers to beat out the competition in local search.
Master Your Omni-Channel and Online-to-Offline CX
80% of people like buying items online and picking their purchases up in store. Consumers don’t think in the world of online and offline, why should you? More importantly, this is another area where Amazon can’t compete.
Today’s consumer shops with every impulse, fusing both worlds together. Searching, discovering, ordering, shopping, and returning, both in and out of the store. Understand where and how your customers are shopping and how your online efforts influence and drive in-store visits. Our clients have reported that buying online and picking up in-store (BOPUS), drives an increase in basket values since they are already at the store and decide to walk around and often find a few more things to add to the purchase.
That doesn’t happen on their website.
Customers Want Instant Gratification. Give It To Them!
On top of seamless experiences both online and offline, customers are shopping in store because it immediately solves whatever problem they may have and provides instant gratification.
76% of local searches result in a same-day store visit. Additionally, nearly 50% of shoppers choose to shop in store rather than online simply because they could take their purchases home immediately. Local searches are actionable and goal oriented by nature. Customers who are using it are doing so because they want to go somewhere and buy something right now. For brick-and-mortar businesses that are able to capitalize on local search and reach page one of the results page, this means more store traffic and more opportunities to make a sale.
The Next Generation of Shoppers
Fish where the fish are biting. It may be time to usher in a new generation of shoppers, and we’re not just talking about Millennial. Gen Z is making a huge impact on today’s buying habits. Despite having grown up in a digital world, younger generations actually prefer to shop in stores.
Millennials: Retail Shopping In-Store vs. Online
At 1.8 billion million people strong, is currently the largest demographic as of 2022. The good news for location-based retailers: 50% of millennials say they’d rather go into a physical store location than shop online. Some of the motivators include that fact that brick-and-mortar stores offer the opportunity to try out or try on the products they want to buy — something you can’t do online. They also enjoy the experience of “the treasure hunt” or the opportunity to find a great bargain in store.
Millennials are also obsessed a brand’s online reputation. More so than any other generation, they check online reviews for a product or service before choosing where to spend their money. Additionally, the far majority say they post an online review at least once a year with 71% of Millennials doing so at least once a month! Needless to say, if you want to survive, your Millennial customers need to stay happy.
Want to improve your reputation management strategy ASAP? Level up with these 10 Review Response Templates You Can Use Right Now!
Gen Z: Retail Shopping In-Store vs. Online
Despite being the first people to live their entire lives online, Gen Z actually enjoys the in-store shopping experience more than any other generation. Making up 2 billion people worldwide and $100 billion in global spending power, about 56% of Gen Z shoppers prefer going to a physical business location to shop. That said, brands still need to invest heavily in Gen Z-focused digital or hybrid shopping experiences. It’s not that they don’t rely on the internet. Instead, they see online and “real world” shopping as a singular buying experience.
Also, where millennials were looking for opportunities to touch and feel the products they wanted to buy, Gen Z is more enticed by “fun store experiences” and “live events” that they can enjoy and also share with their friends via social media. They also mentioned in-store specials, sustainability, and loyalty programs as large motivating factors in which brand to choose.
Check out our blog, Win More Gen Z Retail Customers with Local SEO & Reputation Management, to learn more about marketing for an increasingly powerful demographic.
Amazon and online-only retailers aren’t going anywhere. While this doesn’t mean disaster for physical store locations, your brand’s success absolutely depends on evolving your marketing strategy to compete against these behemoths. Do you have the digital tools and technology to adapt, thrive, and eventually grow bigger than ever before?
Businesses that can leverage their physical locations will withstand the impact that Amazon, e-commerce and online retailing is having on their revenue. Schedule your FREE demo with Chatmeter to learn more about Local SEO and how it can help drive in-store traffic and boost revenue.Book a Chatmeter Demo