How to Unify Your Business’ Online and Offline Experiences
We’ve been living in an “omni-channel world” for a while now.
What does that mean? It means your customers aren’t just looking you up online or finding your ad and making a decision. They’re looking everywhere – online, in traditional media and even in your laundromat – to make a decision about whether you’ll get their business. It’s a unique phenomenon that looks and feels like a natural progression in online shopping behavior.
What does this mean for laundry businesses like yours? For starters, you need to make sure that all elements of your business show a unified front – and that’s easier said than done.
In this article, I want to briefly cover some basics about selling to today’s sophisticated “omni-shopper.”
Online and Offline Are Equal… Mostly
It’s easy to think in terms of online versus offline these days. After all, they feel like very different worlds, and it’s sometimes hard to keep up with technical innovations that affect your online element. However, the drive toward omni-shopping means that mentality needs to be reevaluated.
A recent study from retail analytics company Toluna showed that roughly 90 percent of shoppers felt a cohesive online and offline presence was essential. American shoppers see both areas of your business as equally valid ways to evaluate what you can give them. If either is lacking, you’re likely missing out on business that should otherwise be relatively easy to generate.
And if you’re tempted to think that simply scrapping the online approach is the solution, that’s actually worse. You need to start thinking instead about how you can get the lagging area to catch up, and then evaluate a plan that unifies your online and offline presence.
Make Your In-Store Experience Shine
I’ve spoken before on the customer experience – through in-person presentations, online blogs and even in previous articles for PlanetLaundry. I truly believe that how customers experience your laundry services will be the leading factor in whether or not they’ll come back. And, of course, retaining just one customer is worth about five new ones.
With that said, how do you optimize your in-store experience? Part of the answer is sprucing up your interior design. Although I think I’ve got a decent eye for design, I’ll leave the true advice to the experts.
However, let’s look at some basic, surefire ways to immediately improve your laundromat’s in-store experience:
- Add comfortable seating.
- Provide entertainment options for adults and children.
- Upgrade machinery to be quicker and more efficient.
- Offer flexible payment options.
- Improve parking options.
- Train staff on customer service.
- Keep everything clean and well-stocked.
- Offer competitive discounts and customer loyalty incentives.
These are just a few ideas – and I really could go on. The point is to find ways to keep customers happy in your store, and then they’re more likely to come back. It’s worth the time and money you’ll put into it.
Couple In-Store Amenities with a Dynamic Online Presence
What about your online presence? How do you improve that?
It depends. What are you currently doing to engage with people online? Do you post regularly on social media and have an up-to-date, mobile-friendly website? Are your local listings accurate – and do you have hours, prices and holidays updated? These may seem like minor items to you, but your customers see them as essential extensions of your business, and they make decisions based on these simple things.
You could have the best laundromat in town, but if your website looks like it was built in 2002, your customers are going to worry that your store may not have been updated since then either. And that’s just the basics.
Once you have a website that functions, you’re also likely to benefit from taking things a step further with email marketing, chatbots (whether Facebook or on your site), paid advertising and a whole host of other online marketing tactics. Each provides an opportunity to increase touchpoints with potential customers and helps unify the online/offline gap. Again, these are elements that are worth the time and money you put into them.
New Year, New You
My overarching point is simple: make sure you pay as much attention to your online presence as you do to your offline store. Both have the potential to make you more money in this new year, but you have to understand the modern customer and how they evaluate you versus your competition. Only then can you effectively market – and only then can you truly grow.