Why are you ignoring all the best principles of retail in digital?

Posted on Wednesday, 21. November 2018 in category Digital marketing. 4 min read • Written by

Črt Podlogar

I’ve been doing a lot of shopping lately and as annoying as in-store sales personnel are, you have to give it to them – they know their business. I’m one of those people who absolutely hate being approached by a store employee with a smile on their face inquiring whether I need any assistance with my shopping. No, I don’t. I know exactly what I want and where to find it. Five minutes later I realise, that I don’t know what I want, I don’t know where it is and in fact, I do want help.

Not to brag, but I bought myself a new laptop two months ago. I knew I wanted an HP laptop, I knew it needed to be 17’’ so I could Netflix like a boss, battery didn’t matter, it needed a lot of RAM and I didn’t want to pay for an SSD drive, old school is good enough. And I DIDN’T WANT ANYTHING with my laptop. No bag, no backpack, no mouse, no extra warranty, nothing. I walked out of the store with a 14’’ Dell laptop, with an extra long life battery, SSD drive, Logitech mouse, fancy all-leather laptop bag and 2-year extended warranty. And I had no idea what happened.

In reality it’s very simple when you break it down – consumers have a more or less developed idea of what they want to buy – usually it’s the less part that’s dominant. This means we’re open to suggestions, can be motivated to buy something we didn’t plan to buy and mostly we’re in a semi-rational state – I always like to think I’m a very rational shopper with robot-like precision and will power. The truth is I can easily be convinced to pay €100 more for something if it’s better, and to buy one or two extra things, if they make sense.

What’s the point Črt, nobody cares about your shopping

The point is – all of you brick and click retailers play hard ball in your retail stores, but you absolutely suck online. And I’m struggling to figure out why. Long gone are the days when websites and technology prevented you from having top-notch customer service in the digital world. In the end you will have to face the truth – the low-wage sales employee in your store has more enthusiasm and sense to sell me things than your digital marketing team has.

Let’s talk upsell – when was the last time you took the time to really plan out your upsell products in the webstore? You have a complex and comprehensive purchasing strategy for your offline store and plan out the positioning and pricing of the products, but why bother to do the same online, right? We’ll just slap five random laptops in the same price range into the upsell carousel and be done with it. We’ll wonder why we don’t upsell later.

Let’s talk cross-sell – same story. You add some random products to the upsell – you don’t care that I’m buying a €2,000  laptop, you will try to cross-sell me the cheapest €10  laptop bag and the random no-name brand wireless mouse to go along with it. Because nobody can be bothered to actually plan it out and set it up. While your retail salesperson will follow me almost to the exit to try and convince me I really need that extra item, you can’t be bothered to setup a checkout pop-up or abandoned cart notification.

God forbid you would waste time with something as complicated as cart abandonment, that can literally be setup by a high-school student with a bit of computer sense in less than a day. And you’re doing this for a living.

What about information – your sales personnel are a wealth of information about brands and models, and they’re great at finding the right product fit for my need and problems. On the other hand, as an agency man I find myself struggling every single day to convince my clients to put some useful content on their website; God forbid! I mention a blog or posting content regularly! Nobody reads that, it’s a waste of time. If you believe your customers are experts in everything you sell, from shavers, laptops and TVs to fridges, couches, beds, kitchens, sports gear and more, you really need to talk to your sales personnel. Right now.

You have the upper hand – but you don’t seem to take advantage of it. You can use marketing automation to recognize past buyers and what they bought – you can advertise to people based on their characteristics, things they like or shopping interests they expressed online. You can follow up on their abandoned carts, you can remarket them after their purchase with cross-sell products, you can send them e-mails, you can show them responsive, customised dynamic ads on different platforms, post blogs, use videos, set up product reviews, work with influencers and so on.

Your sales guy starts with “Hi, how can I help you?” and he’s kicking your ass. It’s time you sat down with your “offline” team and understood how they’re winning over customers. And then you need to translate that into the digital world – all the tools are there and you already have a strategy in action – you simply need to digitize it.

All hail the retail salespeople.

If you’re a digital marketer, next time you go to the store, don’t be annoyed by them – try to learn something instead.

/rant complete

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