How many times have you been told that traditional brick-and-mortar retail is dead? That sentiment doesn’t quite lineup with the reality that offline commerce is projected to make up 90 percent of overall commerce sales well into 2021.
Brick-and-mortar retail is far from dead, but the competitive environment has changed. National franchise brands must continue to adapt to meet the needs of digitally savvy consumers. Local retail shops can’t compete with the convenience of online shopping, but they can win customer loyalty by turning their stores into uniquely local experiences.
Multi-location brands have a leg up on eCommerce stores when it comes to local presence, and this can make all the difference when you’re trying to convince customers to go local instead of going online. Three distinct areas can be leveraged to better compete in this digitally-driven world against the likes of Amazon and other eCommerce giants; local pages, local experiences, and local reviews. Here’s how you can make them work for your business:
Local pages — the Facebook pages that are created for local businesses — are a key area where national franchise marketers can compete and win big against eCommerce. Take advantage of the fact that Amazon doesn’t have physical locations or the accompanying local pages. According to Gartner’s latest Omnichannel Report, the first item in the retail survival kit is for retailers to provide information about their stores on their pages. To do this, you’ll have to set up or claim the local business pages via top sites like Facebook and Google My Business. According to a research report created by SOCi and the Local Search Association, we have found that as much as 80 percent of brand engagement is happening on business’ local pages as opposed to their corporate pages.
Digital platforms like Google and Facebook have evolved to provide businesses with more options for connecting with local consumers. You can use Google Posts to send out updates on your Google My Business page. These updates will appear in search results — helping you reach customers early in their buying journey. On Facebook, the local pages are your best bet for creating localized content to engage with customers on a personalized level. Businesses that aren’t implementing a localized social strategy are missing out on their most engaged audience.
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To compete in this new era, you need to excel at the things where online retailers fail. Amazon does a lot of things well, but content marketing isn’t one of them. This blind spot leaves a wide open space for your franchise to interject itself at the beginning of the consumer journey — before the customers get to Amazon or another eCommerce site.
Customers don’t want to simply walk into your shop, buy your product, and leave — they can quickly acquire new products online if they’re looking for a simple transaction. In this digitally driven age, in-store exclusives and in-person events make all the difference. The best place to promote these events and post about local offers, you ask? Social media. Our research shows that social media is the first place most people turn to learn more about a business, and is the premier source for due diligence by franchise prospects. Updating your social pages with fresh content will make your franchise more appealing to potential franchise owners who are seeking more information on your business.
Eighty-two percent of smartphone shoppers have conducted “near me” searches, and local business listings show up first in those search results. These local listings pull information from Google My Business pages, but also include information from around the web, such as reviews.
Some of Google’s top ranking factors include the number of reviews your business has and its overall star rating on review sites. Of course, reviews affect more than just SEO. According to our research report, ratings and reviews are now the No. 1 factor consumers use when determining which business to visit.
Building a strong localized social presence means turning your customers into brand ambassadors. The best way to do that is by responding to each and every review, and to do so quickly. We’ve found that 89 percent of consumers would be open to changing a negative review depending on how the business responds to the review. On top of that, almost 40 percent of consumers expect a response within 24 hours.
Your brick-and-mortar franchise can compete with eCommerce sites if you focus on your local pages, your local content, and your local reviews. By arming yourself with a smart localized social strategy, you’ll be able to take advantage of the report — created by SOCi and the Local Search Association — which states that 72 percent of brand engagement happens on local pages. Amazon doesn’t have local pages or local content, and they don’t respond to local reviews. You, however, can become a master of all three local categories. How are you managing these areas across all of your locations?