4 reasons a shopfront is valuable in the digital age

As more and more businesses transition to a remote working model, traditional shopfronts are becoming a rare commodity. But if it’s not broken, why fix it? Stockdale & Leggo COO, Anna Thomas is a strong advocate for a physical shopfront in the digital age.

eCommerce is a growing phenomenon, there’s no doubt about it. It’s cost-effective for businesses and provides customers with information and products are the touch of a button, accessible anytime, anywhere. Think of the success of eBay and Amazon, who, until recently, were 100 per cent online.

Hardly one to go against technology, I begin to wonder if the service industry has lost sight of the value of a physical storefront altogether. I’m not disregarding the importance of online presence—I think we are all aware that it is the future of a successful business!

To maintain a strong brand, don’t view the two in isolation, but recognise how they complement one another. Here are four reasons you shouldn’t go away with shopfronts.

Shape your brand personality

Marketing can make or break a business. Do it successfully, and you will increase brand awareness, employee engagement, build credibility and set your business out from the crowd.

Your storefront is ultimately another marketing opportunity and is often the first interaction customers have with your brand. One positive impression can generate hundreds more like it.

In a field like real estate, there is a certain expectation of the traditional experience of buying a house. Customers associate with going into their local agent and meeting with the relator with starting an exciting new chapter.

To remain an industry leader, view a shopfront not as an expense, but an investment to increase visibility and customer engagement with your brand.  It is a great way to maintain your legitimacy and tells your clients ‘we’ll be here for the long run’.

Connect with customers

The first step to creating a trust relationship is to personally connect with customers. No customer is the same, it is important to make them feel valued and confident they have chosen the right business.

The experience is what your customers will remember, and a physical interaction allows them to put a face to the brand.  Don’t forget, this gives you an opportunity to showcase your expertise.

View online and physical presence as the dynamic duo where one will compliment the other. Our website is one of our greatest for online house hunters. But we don’t want the interaction to stop there, so we developed the ‘Find an Office’ tool, giving customers the option to find their local agent and come in, ask questions and see for themselves the amazing service we provide.

Consumers love the convenience of e-commerce, but we value a connection more.

Increase organic sales

It is easy to forget that a simple conversation can generate a sale. Meeting with customers face-to-face can differentiate your business from the rest. The most in-depth conversations can prompt questions customers didn’t even know they had, to generate greater interest.

In my experience, customers often don’t know exactly what they want when buying a house. After coming into the office, we can guide them down the path that is right for them and provide resources to ensure the best outcome.

Remember, each customer is different, so taking the time to have a conversation about his or her wants and needs can create a deeper connection. Next time they want a house, who will be the first to come to their mind? 

Maintain a sense of community

 A company culture starts from the inside and is reflected to the public.  Engaging with fellow employees every day supports strong relationships to create a positive internal culture.

To feel apart of something bigger brings increased productivity and motivation. Foster learning by giving employees the opportunity to practice and develop their skills in a real-life context. Create a sense of community that your customers want to be a part of.

After all, your team is all working towards a common goal- to deliver the best outcome for the customer.

The key is to balance digital and physical presence. Give potential customers an opportunity to recognize the business every day, and you will see results. The traditional shopfront is not dead it’s simply evolving.

 

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Anna Thomas
Anna Thomas is the Chief Operating Officer of major Australian real estate network, Stockdale & Leggo. With over fifteen years experience in consulting, sales, marketing, marketing and training, She was recognised as a Telstra Business Women’s Awards Finalist in the Corporate and Private Award in 2016, a 2017 Finalist in the Real Estate Business Awards ‘Industry Thought Leader of the Year’ Award and a Bronze Stevie winner in the Woman of the Year category in the 2017 International Business Awards.

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