More and more brick and mortar merchants are launching online stores, and ecommerce merchants are moving into retail locations. As such, there’s an increased demand for merchants to upgrade to tools that unify online and in-store systems.
With a unified POS, merchants can manage online and in-store inventory from a single point of sale, speed up checkout, and, ultimately, capture more sales. If you’re looking to grow your business as a Shopify Partner, now is the perfect time to become an omnichannel expert.
If you run an agency or build apps, Shopify makes it easy for you to grow by supporting merchants who sell online and in-store. For app developers this likely means integrating with Shopify POS. For Shopify agency partners, this likely means expanding your existing services to help drive revenue across more channels, such as brick-and-mortar retail.
While you may be ready to start supporting retail merchants, you also may be wondering how to find your first few brick-and-mortar clients.
In this post, we’ll talk about how you can find new clients by:
- Looking at your existing client base
- Establishing a referral network
- Offering incentives
- Leveraging your local advantage
- Running a marketing campaign
1. Look at your existing client base
More and more merchants are expanding the success of their online stores by moving into physical locations. One reason for this may be because selling in person and pop up stores may be a financially efficient way of acquiring new clients compared to digital acquisition costs, which only continue to increase. According to Shopify’s Future of Retail report, 32% of brands said they’d be establishing or expanding their use of pop-up and in-person experiences in the next year, while 31% said they planned on establishing or expanding their physical retail footprint.
What’s interesting is the opposite is also true as brick-and-mortar retailers are now selling online. Ecommerce is growing and it’s easier now than ever to reach a wider audience by bringing sales online.
Chances are, several of your current and past clients are expanding their stores into physical locations or moving sales online. This can be a huge opportunity for you to grow your own business alongside theirs.
“Add value to the relationships you have with existing clients—introduce them to POS and show them how omnichannel can work for their business, and how you can help. Take your existing knowledge of Retail commerce trends and the Shopify platform to identify new ways your clients can succeed as in-person retailers.” -Carlyle Doherty, Retail Partnerships Lead, Shopify.
Here are some specific ways you can extend your new services to your existing client base.
Send an email
The power of email marketing cannot be understated, especially if you already have a thriving relationship with clients.
The most recent State of Email report from Litmus shows email marketing is becoming increasingly critical to the success of a business, and that email marketing has remarkably high ROIs. The report shows an average email marketing ROI of 36:1.
The additional good news is if you already have a relationship with past clients, you’ll likely experience higher open rates and your campaign doesn’t have to be complicated.
If you offer digital marketing or consulting to merchants on Shopify websites, you can send an email notification informing clients you’ve expanded your service offerings to include retail support.
Longhouse Media does this:
“One of the main strategies we use at Longhouse Media is to reach out to existing clients by email. We show them the benefits of using Shopify by walking them through a live demo. Once the client sees how easy it is to add and manage their products, they have a hard time not making the transition to Shopify.” Austin Mallar, Founder, Longhouse Media
Explain the value of a unified back-office
If you know your existing clients are using a POS that’s not Shopify, teach them the value of unifying sales with one system.
We interviewed Mark Perini, Shopify Partner and Founder of ICEE Social. He had a client who was using three different POS systems—one for their online store, another for a physical store in France, and yet another for their other store in Spain.
The client was regularly traveling back and forth between Spain and France to update inventory in person.
Once Perini moved this client to Shopify POS, the client didn’t have to travel to make updates. Now, they can make updates for all three stores in the cloud directly from Shopify POS.
"Physical and online cannot work in silos anymore. You need to be present in front of your customers at all touchpoints of the user journey. Clients who have unified POS and online are able to access the client's details and can provide them with better-personalized sales support and upsell.” - Moeed Ahmed Sheikh, Co-founder, BlueCastle Digital
2. Establish a referral network
Do you have existing retail clients you currently support? Create a referral program and incentivize them to refer their fellow brick-and-mortar merchants to your business.
There are several ways you can build a referral network from scratch. Consider the following steps:
- Identify your most loyal clients
- Inform existing clients about your new referral program
- Offer a compelling incentive (e.g., discount code, cash reward, free services, etc.)
- Create a formal sign-up
- Set up an email flow reminding customers about your referral program
- Provide better rewards for additional referrals
Referral programs are among the most powerful forms of marketing, and a stellar way to promote brand loyalty, get new leads, and find additional clients.
“To find your first brick-and-mortar client, establish a referral program. As a small business owner on Shopify, you might not have the budget for expensive marketing campaigns that can't produce a guaranteed return. Instead, reward your existing customers for referring new clients. Word of mouth is a powerful tool of persuasion, and there's plenty in it for the customer. You could hand out discount codes, free products, or special items in return for successful brick-and-mortar referrals. -Aaron Gray, Co-Founder, NO-BS Marketplace
3. Offer incentives
While starting a referral program is an excellent way to get existing customers to send new leads, you can also benefit by offering sign-up incentives to new brick-and-mortar customers themselves.
Here are some ways you can attract new clients with incentives:
- Discounted services - It’s expensive for merchants to expand an online business to a physical store. Consider offering a mutually-beneficial discount for your services. You get a new client, and they save on start-up costs.
- Limited-time promotion - You’re already using email to tell current customers about your new services. Create a limited-time promotion that gives your customers additional ecommerce services if they sign up for your brick-and-mortar services.
- Bundle - Combining services is an excellent customer loyalty tool. Offer lower prices on your ecommerce and brick-and-mortar solutions if they use your agency for both.
Offering current clients an attractive sign-up promotion will encourage current ecommerce customers to hire you for help expanding into their brick-and-mortar locations. This is especially true if you already have a good relationship.
“Provide a bonus to your clients for signing up. Giving customers a discount is a great incentive. An attractive deal can entice customers. Giving clients a cause to connect with your promotions is a powerful promotion tool.” -James Angel, Co-Founder, DYL
4. Leverage your local advantage
Approaching your local businesses with your new brick-and-mortar services may be the best place to acquire new customers.
Here are some ideas to promote your services locally:
- Hit the pavement - Stop by local businesses and ask to speak to the owner. Set up a meeting and tell them how you can help them scale and create more efficient processes.
- Join local SMB social media groups - Small businesses send out requests for help all the time on social media. Being present on local social channels will help you find new clients and networking opportunities.
- Network at expos - Register for local business expos. You can promote your services by renting a booth, speaking in break-out events, and attending networking sessions.
- Claim your local listings - Local businesses often look nearby for business services. If you haven’t claimed your Google Business listing and invested in local SEO, the time is now.
Not only will building your local presence help you scale your business, but you’ll also be building your local economy.
“Shopify partners must constantly run marketing campaigns focused on one or more channels, including SEO, social media, and email marketing. All of these work best if you also partner with local businesses within your niche.” -Lord Gideon, SearchWorks.ph
5. Run a marketing campaign
Another stellar idea to spread the word about your expanded services is to run a traditional marketing or advertising campaign. The goal of this campaign should be twofold:
- Explain the benefits of Shopify POS to your clients
- Explain how your agency specifically can offer services that will drive growth if your client moves to Shopify POS
You can use a variety of different marketing channels to get the word out. We’ve already talked about email and referral marketing, for example. Other ideas include running a social media marketing campaign, investing in content marketing, or even considering an influencer partnership.
The kind of marketing that will work best for you depends on your agency and your audience, so the best first step is to create a customized marketing plan.
A marketing plan is a defined strategy that your business can use to reach your intended customers effectively.
It consists of an:
- Executive summary - A roundup of the strategic highlights of your marketing plan.
- Market research - A deep dive into audience research, competitor analysis, and relevant data.
- Marketing strategy - A breakdown of the channels, formats, and messaging you’ll use.
- Budgets - A breakdown of how much you intend to spend on marketing.
- Measurement - Definitions of how you will measure the success of your campaigns.
Creating an effective marketing campaign is highly involved. All your action steps will flow directly from your strategic plan, so creating this early in the process is crucial. You can even hire a marketing agency to help you if it isn’t your specialty.
Spread the word about your new omnichannel services
If your only focus is on ecommerce clients, you’re missing out on an entire avenue for scaling your business.
Brick-and-mortar clients are a growing segment—so capture your first batch of them by reaching out to your current customers where they spend time and incentivizing them to use your new services. Do this by spreading the word through email, referral programs, sign-on incentives, your local reach, and traditional marketing.
At the end of the day, more and more Shopify merchants are expanding into physical locations. There is no better way to grow your Shopify partner business than to expand your services to meet the demands of brick-and-mortar clients.
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