‘Last Mile’ Service Key to Online Sales Growth

by Shipearly on October 12, 2017 No comments

What scares most people about buying products online? Aside from being able to touch and feel the products its ‘how do I assemble, install, or move this’? For a lot of product categories such as appliances, automotive accessories, bicycles, mattresses, tires, and installed consumer electronics the direct to consumer approach is not feasible. Many consumers would not feel comfortable buying tires for example without a mechanic involved. Competing with dealers in a direct to consumer approach in these categories is a death wish, especially when 95% plus transactions occur in store. For these product categories dealers are truly considered ‘value added resellers’ as many consumers would not purchase online without assembly, installation, white glove delivery, etc. included.

Ignore the Channel and it Will Go Away?

The solution up until now has been to avoid online sales completely to eliminate channel conflict or not to bite the hand that feeds. Alternatively some brands direct a consumer to an online only marketplace that competes with brick and mortar dealers anyway. Those that do sell direct to consumer address a maximum of 10% of the market and face scaling challenges as they struggle to break into key accounts who view them as a competitor.

But things have changed. With the Internet, the balance of power is shifting from retail buyers to consumers. Currently consumers are researching online, reading reviews, and when ready to buy are directed to a dealer locator killing momentum. 90% of the time that dealer doesn’t have the product in stock and to a lesser degree might not even have a model on display in a showroom causing what could be a simple process to be long and drawn out. Not to mention ample opportunity for lost sales, either due to out of stock situations, competitive distractions, a sales person who is paid more to sell a competitive product, or the consumer is interrupted with life during the extended buying process.

Consumer Expectations to Drive Change

Consumer expectations are growing. Consumers expect a seamless cross-channel experience between online and physical retail. Consumers have been conditioned to not buy from companies who make it as hard as possible for people to buy. Take online page loads for example, if something takes six seconds or longer to load most consumers abandon the purchase. What do you think having to call or drive around to buy a product does to your conversion rates? If you don’t make your products easier to buy, consumers either won’t buy at all or your competitors who do make it easy will get the business. After all, when’s the last time you heard someone say with glee ‘and it was so hard for me to buy’!

Last Mile Commerce Emerging

As a result a new breed of ‘Last Mile’ commerce is emerging that allows consumers to buy online with local dealer fulfillment blending sales channels together to give consumers the best of online and offline shopping. Rather than competing, brands can sell online with pick-up at a dealer’s location assembled/installed, or have their order delivered to their home in white glove fashion. No more competing, just winning for consumers, dealers, and manufacturers with the value add of retail as a service.

The Benefits of a Cross-Channel Sales Strategy

Boost Conversions

A cross-channel sales strategy boosts conversions by simply making your products more accessible to consumers. By shortening the path to purchase there are also far fewer potential interruptions in the customer buying journey before they transact. Customers also take comfort in knowing they will be taken care of before, during, and after purchase. In the event of a problem or if the product requires servicing, having a reputable dealer that can support them locally post-purchase increases consumer confidence and trust. With 93% of consumers shopping in multiple sales channels before ultimately buying, it is important to be ready to transact whenever your consumer wants to on their terms which also includes in store. Did you know 63% of consumers preferred shopping method is the physical store?

Gain Insights to Sell More

Consumer actions that led to a purchase that can be tracked and fed back to marketing. This feedback allows for adjusting of strategy, messaging, and how marketing budgets are allocated to sell more with lowered customer acquisition costs. Currently many brands are flying blind with no idea if the customer converts at all.

Make Those Who Sell Your Products More Loyal

These new found online sales can be used to augment sales efforts to establish new relationships and build upon existing ones making dealers more loyal. Dealers gravitate towards products and companies they believe in. Make your customers believe more and that passion will show when they sell to consumers on the showroom floor to be the first brand recommended with the best display in-store where you can get discovered by more consumers.

Conclusion

Consumers are shifting how they buy and are open to new ways to shop making it easier to buy what they want, rather than being restricted to what’s on the showroom floor. Those who are most responsive to modern consumer behavior to drive demand and integrate their supply chain to include B2B customers will drive competitors out of sight, out of mind, and off the retail floor. By combining channels you you can convert more consumers, shorten the path to purchase, and eliminate competition at retail while building loyalty with dealers.

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Shipearly‘Last Mile’ Service Key to Online Sales Growth