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Published August 27th 2013

Turning In-Store Customers into Online Customers (and Vice Versa)

It has long-since become law of the marketing jungle that if you don’t have a website, you can kiss a huge chunk of your customer-base goodbye.

If your website is appealing and useful, you can convince web surfers to visit your store, a valuable conversion to make.

But also valuable is converting your in-store customers into online customers. Self-sufficient online customers can save you money by solving their own issues without your direct intervention.

Here are some of methods to improving both in-store and online experiences such that one serves the other.

Using your in-store space and service to promote your website and social media is a sure-fire way to improve your traffic and popularity in the realm of the digital.

What is your store like?


Your store should be comfortable and waste no space. Consider using custom wallpaper instead of paint so that you can put your logo or URL on your walls in visually interesting ways.

You can use floor runners, window treatments, and countertops with your brand and Twitter tag on them. Even better, have a screen displaying your active Twitter feed and Facebook wall.

And, paying attention to the omnipresent smartphone, you should include plenty of QR (Quick Response) codes.

Who is in your store?


There’s more in your store than furniture and logos. You also have people. The most important of these, of course, are your customers.

Almost everyone has a smartphone these days. Younger customers will likely dominate this group, but don’t discount a customer’s tech savvy based on age alone (us older guys can be hip and with-it, too).

instore2Knowing how your customers communicate can help you speak their language, as it were.

Also in your store is your staff. They should be as aware of all of the above just as much as you are. Try holding seminars teaching them how to recognize what kind of customer they’re dealing with so they know which digital path to set them on.

They should be able to give a preliminary assessment of their customer’s interests and tech-savvy by following clues of their browsing patterns and interactions. This will help them manage their time and approach with each customer to be more effective.

Your staff may be the best way for you to plug your online presence. It isn’t difficult to work your website and Facebook page into conversation with in-store customers, so encourage your staff to do so whenever they can.

Have them point out the QR codes you may cleverly stash around the store and promote your Facebook in conversation as a convenient way to stay up to date.

What is your online presence like?


So let’s get down to brass tacks. All the plugging in the world your staff and store do won’t mean much if you’re having technical difficulties.

Your QR codes need to work and the links you advertise need to go to the right places. All of the information on the website and social media should agree with what is provided in-store.

Designing your website is an important step. When customers are at your website on their phones while standing in your store, they should be able to feel continuity between the two.

Online ShoppingThe website should reflect your store in colors, theme, and language. Their online experience should be an echo of their in-store experience.

Any discrepancies between the two (like the inability to handle a product online or speak face-to-face with a representative) can be addressed with online solutions (like interactive graphics and active social media outlets).

Make your links to Facebook, Twitter, contact information, and store hours prominent and easy to locate.

Speaking of Facebook and Twitter, try to be topical and brand-centric in your social media ventures. Jump into conversations relevant to your business. Offer discounts and swag. Thank individuals for their feedback. Mention your in-store locations and goings-on.

Facebook is reportedly somewhat in decline for young users, but it still has efficacy in marketing if used well.

Meanwhile, Twitter offers easily-digested marketing to a huge audience. Keep in mind that many of its users are young (for now).

Sing popular culture references and humor in your Tweets will increase your likelihood of gaining followers.

Of course, not many young kids have complete control over how they spend their money. Being aware of, and even marketing to, their parents are good ways to turn fans into customers.

While Facebook and Twitter in particular are good for interfacing with customers in general, you may want to be more choosey about other forms of social media you utilize.

If your business translates well into video format (say, you have videos of people using your bicycles), consider a YouTube channel.

Or, as many clothing and craft businesses have already learned, Pinterest is a valuable tool. You have ton of options available to you, so choose which platforms work the best for your business and maintain a steady flow of content.

Trying to do all of them at once will eventually cause you to lag and your customers will lose interest.

Reaching a balance


The best thing you can hope for is that your in-store experience will encourage traffic to your website and that your website can, in turn, encourage visits to your store.

Digital sharing, particularly through social media, is the order of the day for branding and marketing – but you can’t underestimate the value of your physical stores. Nothing can truly replace that experience.

Unlike with websites, if they walk in, you know they’re meant to be there and your staff can encourage them to stay and chat. They can expose customers to products they might not have been aware of otherwise. So learn from what’s effective in-store and apply that to your web-building.

By using your in-store experience to promote your online experience, you can convert these customers into the kind of consumer who feels comfortable shopping with you even when they can’t visit your store. They can take your business with them wherever they go.


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