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3 Ways to Create an Immersive Shopping Experience Your Customers Will Love

When I first heard about Nordstrom’s NYC flagship store opening, I was curious to see what the company would do to take its in-store retail experience to the next level. Nordstrom didn’t disappoint.

When the company opened the seven-floor store at 57th Street and Broadway in Manhattan this October, it made sure service was at the forefront of the brick-and-mortar establishment. Though I don’t have any business ties to Nordstrom, I study retail markets and am always curious about how the latest brick-and-mortar store trends impact online shopping and e-commerce growth.

Here are some interesting retail innovations inspired by Nordstrom’s flagship store–and other retailers–that you can apply to help your brand.

1.  Create opportunities to spend time in the store.

The new Nordstrom location offers in-store spa services like blowout bars, facials, massages, waxing, manicures, and more. Offering services like these–and a martini bar and sit-down eateries–keeps customers in the store longer, making them likely to spend more money, according to a Journal of Marketing study.

Look for ways your company can create more in-store experiences that align with your brand, like how Lululemon’s new Mall of America megastore features workout studios, snack bars, and a 6,000-square-foot “experiential area.” Those could involve booking appointments online to try on clothes, providing an in-store café (à la Ikea), or hosting product demonstrations and interactive experiences, like Lush.

2. Create a seamless omni-channel experience and provide multiple ways to get products.

Nordstrom says its online sales jump about 20 percent in a local market when it opens a store there. That, in my opinion, is because of the company’s buy online, pick up in-store options, as well as its offering easy curbside pickup.

Online retailers are opening brick-and-mortar stores because they recognize that customers like to have an option of returning an online purchase in-store. If you’re an e-commerce company that isn’t ready to launch a retail store, consider offering an inventory-free showroom, which could equate to customers spending 60 percent more and buying more expensive items, according to research from the Wharton School and Harvard Business School. Or launch a temporary pop-up shop, like Adore Me’s invite for VIP shoppers.

3. Build smarter, tech-driven experiences.

Customers want a full-service experience from the moment they walk in the door. If you’re a clothing retailer, one way to do that is to create smart fitting rooms. That can be as simple as creating a button customers can push that calls a sales associate, or it can be as advanced as the smart-mirror fitting rooms at Ralph Lauren’s flagship store, which show various sizes and colors available for items. Luxury beauty companies are testing out AR in airport pop-up shops around the globe, enabling customers to play with virtual makeup in trials through virtual mirrors.

By Maria HaggertyCEO, Dotcom Distribution

Source: 3 Ways to Create an Immersive Shopping Experience Your Customers Will Love | Inc.com

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Step-by-Step You Can Turn Your Ecommerce Side Hustle Into a Real Company – William Harris

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The nature of work is evolving. To make a living and build a successful career for yourself, you no longer need to work a traditional 9-to-5 job, commute to a physical office or wait patiently for someone to finally hand you that promotion you’ve worked so hard to get.

You can create your own company, sell your own products and provide valuable services to your own customers — from anywhere in the world. It’s never been a better time to start an ecommerce business. There are plenty of tools, blog posts, podcasts and other resources to help you build an ecommerce shop while you hold on to your day job.

The question is, how do you take that ecommerce side hustle and scale it into a profitable, sustainable full-time gig? It’s not easy, but it is possible. To get on the right track, consider implementing the following tips and ideas from leaders in the ecommerce space.

Find the balance

To be a successful ecommerce entrepreneur, you must walk the line between being thoughtful and executing ideas before you feel completely ready.“You often hear really smart and successful people say you need to be perfect with every action and intention — be it brand, product, packaging, website, customer service, etc.,” Guided CEO David Stober says. “I think many of those big-brained and successful people quickly forgot their actual path to success.

Building a brand and business is about finding that perfect balance of just doing it at the risk of breaking stuff (workflows, technology, product, brand voice) and perfection. Neither extreme is ideal. One means you are going too fast; the other means you are going too slow. Each business has a perfect tempo.”

Striking this balance can be difficult, especially if you’re new to entrepreneurship. To get there, leverage advice and experience from seasoned entrepreneurs and mentors who’ve been in your shoes. Read their blog posts, engage with them on Twitter, join a group on Slack or reach out to someone on Clarity.

Be data-hungry

Scaling your ecommerce business so it can pay all your bills and allow you to live comfortably also requires an obsession with numbers.

“You need to have a detailed growth and profit plan in place,” Blue Stout CEO Allen Burt says. “I always recommend that entrepreneurs outline the financial road map for their business so they know the exact levels of traffic, conversions, average order value and repeat purchases they need to hit their revenue and profit goals.”

Burt recommends you start with an audit of your current website. Ask yourself questions such as, “What is my current conversion rate? What is my average order value? What is my profit margin on each order?” From there, work backward to map out how many monthly site visitors you need to generate enough profit to sustain you and your team.

Network and keep bridges intact

“Maintain positive relationships and try to never burn bridges,” says Kyle Eisenberg, a senior manager at Image Beauty. “You never know when someone that you’ve worked with in the past will be in a position to help you in the future.”

Friends, colleagues and family members can add huge value. They can help you raise money, give you much-needed advice and connect you with the right partners, vendors and industry influencers.

Lean heavy on your biggest fans. Make sure you keep relationships intact and be proactive about updating your network’s members on your projects and progress. Sometimes, it takes just one person to take your business to the next level.

Identify your needs

A successful, scalable ecommerce shop should run like a well-oiled machine even when you’re not the one moving the levers and steering the wheel.

“Figure out the seats you need filled to grow your company without your involvement,” GrocerKey CEO Jeremy Neren says. “If your business can’t function and grow without your involvement, you will have only created a more stressful job for yourself. Total up the cost associated with filling all necessary seats and put together a plan of how far you can scale with those seats filled.”

You have to spend money to make money, and that money ultimately must come from somewhere. Be realistic about your needs upfront so you can gain a better understanding of how it actually will look to scale your business. Identify what you need to do (or whom you need to talk to) during the next few months.

“Determine investors interested in your ecommerce industry and approach them with your plan to scale your business to see if you are able to fund your growth via investment,” Neren says. “If you aren’t able to attract investors, you’ll need to determine how you can bootstrap your growth by increasing revenue with positive unit economics (meaning every time you make a sale you make money).”

Think ahead

Ecommerce is a great growth industry, but it’s also extremely saturated and competitive. To survive, you need to think ahead and prepare for the inevitable.

“There’s no such thing as a sustainable competitive advantage anymore, as every successful and profitable niche or product will inevitably attract me-toos and competitors over time,” Edgacent Cofounder Linda Bustos says. “Ensure your plan and strategy can continually stay ahead of the curve, or plan for a quick exit strategy when your business is at its peak.”

Bustos also recommends you approach with a certain degree of wariness any business that relies entirely on a third-party platform. Think eBay, Amazon or Etsy. You can’t control these platforms, and that’s a problem because they’ll own your data.

“Build your own direct or alternative channels in conjunction,” Bustos says, “as you never know when these platforms will change their rules of play, search and merchandising algorithms, pricing and commission structures or even start directly competing against you.”

The ecommerce industry has more players and competition than ever before. To successfully scale your ecommerce shop into a thriving, full-time gig, you must know the game, be willing and able to quickly pivot and be both proactive and innovative in your strategy.

 

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