Three Successful E-Commerce Hacks You Can Apply To Your Brick & Mortar Retail Store In Less Than A Month

Vintage picture of women in a small shop

There are 1.3 million e-commerce websites out there. All these sites have a few things in common: They all employ a set of tactics that help them increase their conversion rate. When looking at these tactics, some of them can easily be applied to any brick & mortar business. Ready? Let’s go!


Before we dive into the top three e-commerce hacks that can be applied to your physical store, let’s take a quick look at the differences. E-commerce sites in the US have average conversion rates of 2% to 3%. If any physical store had this type of conversion rate, they would instantly be out of business. Let’s keep in mind that the industry-average close rate in home furnishings retail, for example, is 36%.

What’s also different is the quality (and quantity) of traffic. While e-commerce sites run SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) campaigns to get millions of visitors pulled into their digital storefront, foot traffic in physical retail is much smaller, and – also – much more targeted. There is some sort of purchase intent driving the store visit, while online you have a lot of unqualified consumers stumble upon your virtual store, driven by sheer curiosity.

With all that said, while e-commerce and physical retail have their differences, they also have a lot in common. Probably much more than you would think. Let’s take a look at the top three e-commerce tactics to boost conversion rate, that we can easily apply in brick & mortar retail.


1. Keep It Simple: How Fast (And Simple) Checkout Supercharges Conversions

Consumers standing in checkout lane at grocery store.

We’ve all heard the story: Amazon and its “1-Click Checkout” and how crazy important it is to drive up the conversion rate. Complicated checkout processes, signup forms, and other conversion breakers can have a significant impact on sales numbers. Let me give you an example:

If an e-commerce website takes longer than 2 seconds to load, 53% of shoppers lose interest.

How long is two seconds? One, one thousand; two, one thousand…

There. Half of your traffic just lost interest and doesn’t want to buy from you any longer. And if you also force shoppers to create an account before they can check out, you will lose another 33% of potential customers. (Over a third of online shoppers with abandoned carts stated creating an account or another complicated aspect of the checkout process turned them off). Instant gratification is the name of the game, and waiting for a site to load or dealing with a cumbersome checkout process can cost e-commerce retailers greatly.

Why are we discussing these stats? Because this is what people have come to expect. And while the experience in a physical store is still a bit different from the purely transactional nature of e-commerce, there are general consumer trends that brick & mortar retailers simply can’t ignore.

Here’s how this can be applied: If you have a complicated checkout process or suffer from legacy software systems bogging you down, reduce the perceived wait time for the customer by giving them something to do while you work on checking them out. Also, consider mobile clienteling solutions or the ability for your sales associates to transact on the spot using tablets. And lastly, think about different avenues to buy in the store. Many shoppers are comfortable browsing on their own and even prefer not having to talk to a sales associate. Capture these transactional sales by placing your in-store kiosks in areas where consumers can browse on their own, if they choose to do so.


2. A/B Test Like There’s No Tomorrow

Two smoothie bottles on a chair, symbolizing A/B Testing

Successful e-commerce companies (and any successful digital marketer, for that matter) use continuous A/B testing to optimize conversion rate. When running Facebook ads, for example, best practice is to run 10 or more ad sets simultaneously, and eliminate sets that don’t perform after a day or two. All while spinning up more ad sets that further test headline, copy, call-to-action, image or video assets, and target audiences.

Why is A/B testing so important?

A/B testing allows retailers to experiment with different offers and marketing tactics to impact conversion rate. And once you have a clear winner, you can scale your offering to maximize revenue from it without pouring all your money into something that might perform very poorly.

And even subtle changes, such as creating a sense of urgency, can impact conversion rate in the double-digits!

Here’s how this can be applied: Merchandise placement in your showroom can make a huge impact. Experiment with different paths and different items (from multiple categories). Does placing more bedroom items towards the front of the store have an impact? Should you go more promotional with your dining sets to transact faster? If you have an in-store kiosk, use category analytics to find out which categories are the most-browsed in your store. Take a look at the search history and if you find a common theme or a very popular search term, incorporate into your traditional POP signage in the store. Or use your in-store kiosks and digital catalog tablets to test categories. Do you wonder how well an enhanced outdoor section in your store would fare? Add hundreds of outdoor items to your kiosk and track how they perform. Once you see there is demand, order inventory for your showroom.


3. Go Get ‘Em: Follow Up on “Abandoned Carts”

Abandoned shopping cart in parking lot

Abandoned carts are a huge opportunity to increase conversion. According to this, roughly 35% of abandoned carts are potentially recoverable through a combination of measures, mostly checkout process improvements. There’s even a word for it: CRO (conversion rate optimization). Let’s think about the number 35% for a second.

35% and 2 out of 5 icon shopping carts shaded

That’s a lot of carts. And money.

Same goes for your physical store. The average close rate in retail is around the 20% mark. In the home furnishings industry it’s a bit higher with 36% (average) because furniture stores usually don’t have people aimlessly browsing, there’s much more purchase intent. But still: Between 64% and 80% of people that walked into your store, will walk out. Empty-handed.

Many e-commerce sites follow up with visitors a few hours after a cart was abandoned. Sometimes they also throw in a discount to lure the shopper back to finalize the transaction. Since pretty much nobody in physical retail consistently follows up with “abandoned carts”, it’s a chance to really stand out! If you have an in-store kiosk that collects lead information when shoppers share items (because they want to cross-shop or need feedback from an authority outside of the store, such as the spouse or a friend), make sure to build an outreach campaign. Ideally via text.

“Why text?” you might ask.

Here’s how this can be applied: SMS marketing and SMS sales acceleration are incredibly powerful and – compared to email marketing – see open rates and response times marketers could only dream of! A few early adopters in the home furnishings business have started using sales acceleration via SMS and the results are mind-blowing! Are you interested in learning more about the integration of conversational SMS marketing into your in-store and online flow? Shoot us a note and let’s talk.

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