When it appeared clear that businesses could develop their online presence, the first critics complained that no company could develop an online interaction that would be as personal as their offline relationship with their customers. At a time when face-to-face business interactions were ruling the commercial world, it seemed difficult – if not impossible – to imagine how the online world could compete with traditional marketing.
Skip back to today, and it can be difficult to imagine a successful business that doesn’t have an online presence too. Even for commerces and shops that operate in their premises, such as a restaurant or a retail shop, being visible online can attract more local customers and increase your footfall. After all, every restaurant knows that without Google My Business, they will not be visible to local eaters on Google Maps! Every independent shop gathers reviews online to boost their attractiveness and build a positive reputation. However, it would be foolish to assume that the sole combination of both online and offline is the secret formula to success. For a lot of small business owners, a poor online presence could be devastating – imagine visiting a website that takes too long to load; you’ll just bounce off immediately. But they often reassure themselves in thinking that people who buy offline can understand their values and become loyal customers. This isn’t always true, unfortunately. Sometimes even offline customers choose to abandon your commerce. What does it happen and what can you do to avoid it?
#1. Like online customers: Price is an issue
Everything gets more expensive. We get it, and so do your customers. So naturally, they’re looking for the most cost-effective option. Online, there can be no surprise in terms of prices as online retailers display the price of each product. But customers still abandon their basket when they learn about the additional fees, such as delivery and shipping costs. In the offline world, pricing is equally important. Consequently, shops that don’t showcase their price on the label risk facing the disappointment of many customers who will abandon their purchase at the till – aka once the price has been made known. The practice of not disclosing prices is common to some restaurants too, where customers who request a change in their dish – to adjust to their taste or to avoid an allergic reaction — can be charged for the swap, even though this hasn’t been made clear at the time of the order. Some other restaurants have even a habit of placing a basket of bread on the table and charging customers for it.
#2. Your brand is invisible
Branding is more important than ever, especially in a context where you are facing customers. Imagine attending a trade show and not knowing which company is in the booth. This nightmare scenario is typical for small and medium-sized companies that have needed to prioritize their booth decor investment. The brand name almost disappears, and visitors are left confused. While it can be expensive to brand an entire tailor-made booth, you can visit LanyardsUSA.com for info on branded giveaways, decorative items, and stationery. This can showcase your company without breaking the bank. Similarly, on the high street, shops that have kept small signage offer disappear in the background against chains and luxury boutiques that have chosen big, bold signs.
#3. The customer service could be better
If you own a restaurant, you know how much a rude waiter can cost you. But when rudeness becomes normal behavior, it ruins the dining experience. According to the London Restaurant Awards, waiters that don’t deliver the expected service – by being slow, ignorant or impolite – are the top annoyance when eating out. Bad service can ruin a meal, and scare your customers off. In shops, a poor assistant can have a similar effect.
#4. No differentiation
You don’t know what went wrong. You’re doing just like your main competitors, and still, nobody is coming to the shop. Have you considered that this might be the issue? If customers can’t make the difference between your brand and competitors, you immediately become less attractive and, consequently, less competitive. Serving always the same old thing doesn’t work in the business world. You need to differentiate your business so that your audience gets to knows your brand personality.
#5. Peer pressure change shopping habits
If you’ve been shopping with friends before or have been discussing brands with relatives, you’ve probably come across peer pressure. Peer pressure is the reason why a lot of customers struggle with debts: They buy the items they need to integrate with their community, whether it’s the latest Apple phone or a pair of luxury high heels. Ultimately, for shops, peer pressure is generally perceived as a positive thing that drives sales. Nevertheless, there’s a dark side to peer pressure for retailers and physical commerce. A shop that is seen as unfashionable by peers will be avoided. When the new social hub opens in the shopping mall, you might find that your local audience drops significantly. In other words, you need to change your brand image to meet new social expectations.
#6. You ignore when they reach out on social media
Satisfied customers are precious. Satisfied customers who reach out to your brand on social media are golden.
But when you choose to ignore their comments, you expose yourself to serious commercial risk. Almost 30% of customers are more likely to buy from a competitor after being snubbed on social media. 23% will feel less positive about your brand, and 26% are less likely to use your products in future.
#7. Your premises are dated
What does your shop or your restaurant look like? Your premises affect the way customers think about your brand. Old-fashioned environment, or filthy facilities – such as dirty customers’ toilets – can create a negative impression and push customers away. Additionally, if your premises are not accessible to all, you can be exposed to negative reactions from wheelchair users, for instance, which can create a chain reaction.
From the state of your physical brick and mortar shop to the quality of your brand personality, face-to-face customers can be exposed to negative offline experiences. A decrease in brand loyalty is to be expected for businesses that don’t understand how make all their customers feel special.