Think Different

1: Brick and mortar retail is really cost intensive.

2: Brick and mortar retail can’t compete again Amazon.com.

3: With brick and mortar retail one has to sign long-term storefront leases.

4: Enter Bulletin (bulletin.co).

5: Bulletin takes the flexibility of ecommerce and brings it to brick and mortar world.

6: The advantage of a retail store is the idea of unexpected discovery. Online, if people don’t think about searching the product you sell then they’ll likely never find you. Few examples: gelpro.com, skiersedge.com, excaliburdehydrator.com and pitbarrelcooker.com.

7: With Bulletin any of these retailers could rent space at a Bulletin store and allow shoppers to stumble and experience their product.

8: And it’s just like your own online store. If someone buys your pit barrel cooker from a physical store you will get that customer’s info. So you can manage that relationship moving forward.

9: Basically, ideas like Bulletin are helping take brick and mortar from being an inflexible high fixed cost model to highly flexible utility like solution.

10: Expect a lot more innovation in this space.

Let Us Call You

Anything you do that reduces friction will improve conversions.  You know this, and williams-sonoma.com knows this.  That is why on product pages they have this prominent call-to-action—

Williams-sonoma_Let_Us_Call_You

How does this make a difference, you ask?  Well, shoppers who have unanswered questions have 0% probability of converting; shoppers who have unanswered questions have 15% interest in going trough customer service hoop hell (note: it’s possible that Williams-Sonoma has little to no call wait time, but skeptical shoppers just assume they’ll be on hold a long time, thus the 15% interest in placing the call).  However, when shoppers with unanswered questions are given the option of having a service rep call them (thus no wait time) their interest level spikes to 40%.  This delta of 25% between 15% interest and 40% interest is what williams-sonoma.com has eliminated by displaying a Let Us Call You call-to-action.

Screenshot of popup that appears when button is clicked—

Williams-sonoma_Call_Popup

You might not have the call center headcount of williams-sonoma.com, but you can still use this tactic by displaying Let Us Call You call-to-action on select product pages (i.e. product pages that have a high visit count but low conversions or products that are higher ticket items.)

Also, you can set this as a test and measure sales generated via Let Us Call You feature.  Once you know attributed sales it’s easy to determine if leaving the feature is a good idea or not.

Innovation On The Cheap

Many retailers look at their online channel as just another mode to complete a sale.  But that’s a low yield strategy.  Smart retailers use their online channels to do things that are either extremely expensive or impossible offline.  And the smartest ones execute ideas that are brilliant AND inexpensive.

Ever since discovering eyebuydirect.com through getelastic.com I’ve considered their Wall of Frame a brilliant example of how an online store can be used to do something entirely new.  The best way to convince a customer to buy from you online is to demonstrate how it benefits THEM.  Everyone talks about price advantages and better service blah blah but Wall of Frame is something tangible, something the customer can compare with how they shop offline and see a clear benefit.

What impresses even more is discovering a competitor who sees Wall of Frame, realizes they cannot compete on execution but manages to find a cost effective workaround that seems to work just as well.

That retailer would be Debby Burk Optical.  They’ve created something new with the help of Skype.  If a customer has a Skype account they can make a frame selection and have a Debby Burk associate wear and demo it through Skype video conferencing.  The idea is not fool proof: everyone does not have Skype and just because a frame looks good on a model does not mean it will work for the customer.  Someone who has seen Wall of Frame will remain unimpressed but Debby Burk is making an intelligent bet most of their customers have no idea what Wall of Frame is.  For them seeing Skype is a quantum leap.  Best of all, adding Skype did not require additional development costs.

A year from now if Debby Burk sees Skype interactions increase conversions 10% they can take supplemental income and reinvest it to build their own Wall of Frame.

Related article: SeeCommerce

Making Store Locators Work When You Don’t Have A Store At The Customer’s Location

Lets say this is your store locator page….

Store locator page
Store locator page

…and a searcher from Chicago lands on it.  Normally this would lead to an abandon (because you don’t have a Chicago location) but there may be a way to convert this exit into a sale.  Right at the bottom of the page I’d post this message:

“If you couldn’t find a local store please leave your email address with us.  We’re opening stores all the time and would love to notify you the moment a local store opens.  And because we feel bad for being unable to help you today we’ll email an exclusive discount coupon for you to share with one of your close friends who live near our 14 national stores.

PS:  When we open a store near you we’ll send you a discount coupon too!”