Digital Transformation and Local Shops

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What is digital transformation and why your business needs it

Digital transformation has been a buzzword for several years now.

What is digital transformation?

It is the transformation of a physical business into a digital one through digitalization.

By digitalization, we mean making the processes of buying, exchanging information, and selling goods and services more accessible, simple, and effective using the newest digital technology.

E-learning, electronic medical records, government digital services, and online shopping are the major benefits of digital transformation.

This process sped up with the beginnings of the COVID pandemic and will do so even more in the coming years.

Digital Transformation

Digitalization offers a better and more profitable customer experience.

It improves the business process, simplifies customer relationships, and offers better opportunities to manage even the micro aspects of your business.

Shipping and management also benefit from digitization, with reduced costs and streamlined processes.

However, not everything in the world has been digitized already.

Almost all the western world lives in the digital age and has fast internet connections for mobile devices.

But we still see brick-and-mortar shops losing money for not investing online.

Why don’t some stores go digital?

Well, some don’t want to.

Other small local shops entirely rely on word of mouth, which is one of the most powerful marketing strategies, on radio, and local TV channels.

Here, they forget about eWOM, or electronic word of mouth.

We have heard several times, and for many years, that online shopping is killing physical stores.

This is partly true.

Today, almost all of us buy something online.

Many of us buy products online every week on Amazon, Walmart, Home Depot, eBay, Etsy, and other eCommerce platforms.

Local stores have been suffering because of the growth of online commerce for years.

Many small business owners don’t even know how to react and adapt for profit.

From a technical point of view, running an online store is like running a physical one, with a few minor and major differences.

Except that eCommerce offers many more sales possibilities.

What makes eCommerce that effective?

The speed of home delivery, the vastness of product choices, and the free, few-conditions return policies have made eCommerce the number one shopping choice for millions and millions of people.

This has always been a major goal of digital transformation.

Customers have all the time from the comfort of their homes to visit, study, and buy your products.

Many times, they only come into your brick-and-mortar shop with no time to think and buy anything.

With a digital store, customers can choose online, and buy later in your physical shop.

shopping

Another enormous benefit that eCommerce and digital transformation offer to any small business owner is the possibility of receiving feedback.

With feedback, sellers uncover problems that customers would struggle to report in person.

If your product has a lot of issues, consumers will notice.

But if your product is competitive, has market demand, has good pricing, and solves one specific problem without causing others, then reviews will be your best sales weapon.

Innovation and Simplification

The right spirit to delve into the vast world of online sales is not to compete with the giants.

One of the main secrets is to be available for your customers at all times.

Especially since the beginning of the COVID, consumers need to choose products online with calm and security. 

They also need to receive them in the comfort of their homes.

The biggest advantage of E-commerce is the ability to reach anyone in the world with free or reasonable shipping costs.

Many eCommerce platforms allow you to ship all your products at once to their warehouse, and they will send them when customers place an order.

Amazon calls it the FBA program.

Without digital transformation, this process would be much more difficult and slower.

ecommerce warehouse

Although the above-mentioned service comes at a cost, it offers immense revenue opportunities that need careful planning of expenses and revenue projections.

The advancement of digital technology also assists online sellers with the help of artificial intelligence.

The new tools available to digital marketers automate time-consuming and repetitive processes, such as uploading products and updating their information one by one.

AI and automation help with data analytics, forecasting, email campaigns, customer service, lead generation, so you can focus on core sales goals.

With the digital transformation, we have also seen the evolution of one-person companies.

These companies now hire freelancers and agencies because of higher revenues from sales made all over the world, rather than just in the local area.

But wait a second; many obstacles are standing between small business owners and success in E-commerce.

Managing an online store for those who have little experience with the internet and the digital world can be difficult and can easily turn into a negative business experience.

That’s why our Amazon account management service exists.

Here are some key questions: how to transform your store into an eCommerce?

What are the first steps of a digital transformation strategy?

How to make a website with a small budget?

How to get awareness and recognition?

How to get initial online visibility?

To get online visibility for a local shop, SEM and SEO, along with a pinch of branding are what you need to start.

You need to invest in local SEO, which is a branch of search engine optimization that focuses on getting visibility, awareness, and traffic from people that live in the area nearby.

The keywords for a local SEO strategy are long-tail keywords.

LTKs enclose the city or neighborhood after the main search term, and it’s not that hard to find them with a good SEO tool.

The problem with local search engine optimization is that competitors have already used those keywords for years, making it harder for you to rank for such terms.

The solution is to implement a 360° SEO strategy, more or less aggressive, that helps your business stand out from the crowd in the local scene.

The goal is to attract customers and sell more with micro-optimization, as part of a holistic digital marketing strategy.

Here are some quick ideas to improve your local visibility, operational efficiency, and bring innovation to your brick-and-mortar shop.

1) Build and improve your eCommerce store

Nothing beats a professional eCommerce store.

online store shopping

Every digital transformation project involves an online store and digitalization of the products.

What makes a good website is a good customer experience, product or service descriptions, mobile-friendliness, fast loading, etc.

To be honest, building an eCommerce store is not that easy.

But it’s not that hard either.

You can.

Just don’t expect to build your store in a week without a data-driven, step-by-step digital transformation strategy.

How to create your online store?

How to create a profitable online store on a small budget?

Create your online store: first steps

You can build a website using tools within the reach of an average internet user.

There are platforms known as CMS and drag-and-drop applications that allow you to create a website without coding.

With these digital tools, you can build your eCommerce store in just a couple of weeks.

You can easily add product pages, photos, secure digital payment, optimize products descriptions and even offer your customers personalized profile access to store their data, orders, etc.

The total amount of money needed could range from a minimum of $200 per year to over $10.000 per month to have a 360° optimized professional website.

The key ingredients for a good and successful eCommerce are:

  • Professional Website
  • In-House Fulfillment or Third-Party Warehouse
  • Digital Marketing Strategy
  • A Customer Support Team
  • Ongoing Optimization
 

Online Store

You can hire and manage a team of freelancers to do all of this.

Or you can hire a web marketing agency that has eCommerce account management experience like Huppyz.

If you want to go from local to international, you can translate your website according to the visitor’s language.

When a customer doesn’t understand your product description, your shipping methods, or your refund policy, he doesn’t buy anything at all.

Quick fact: you can also showcase your products online through virtual reality.

Thanks to increasingly lightweight, pocket-sized, and low-cost devices on the market, VR will become even more of a player in the coming years.

The only limit to how you can display and showcase your products online is your budget.

From virtual reality to augmented reality apps, the gap between physical and digital is getting thinner and thinner.

VR shopping

When your website is efficient as you expect, focus on branding techniques and marketing strategies to reach your next client.

Activate some SEM and PPC campaigns and list your products on Google Shopping through your Merchant Center account for more visibility and qualified traffic.

Digital transformation and customer support

One thing that will help you gain loyal customers and trust is your customer service.

No matter how big or small your company is when customers have a problem, you need to listen and offer them a solution.

Genuine customer support is a pillar of digital transformation.

Every single contact with your customer is precious if you want to build solid relationships to increase the brand’s value and sales volume.

Also, always store all the customer service cases and contacts in a CRM.

CRM is a Customer Relationship Management tool to manage all contacts with customers, from emails to sales.

customer service experience is crucial

Connect an automated tool to the CRM to create, execute, and track email flows and send scheduled emails to your customers.

The best CRM automation tools work with firmographic settings to analyze and use your customer’s behavior to improve marketing and sales campaigns.

At this point, you should be ready for some SEO.

Add a blog and content regularly to attract your target audience with useful information and tips.

Use webmaster tools to track your website’s progress, the keywords you’ve chosen to rank on search engines, and the backlinks you receive.

2) Use the best SEO tool

Now, what can you do to boost your local presence?

You can pay for radio, newspaper, and local TV advertisements.

Or you can use one of the many tools available online.

Google itself offers a free and great tool to promote your business everywhere.

It is called Google My Business and is perfect for showcasing services and map localization so customers can get there using Google maps and check the reviews.

Add your website in local directories, where a website is listed to provide immediate information and directions.

Local directories have been in use for decades to drive traffic and generate phone calls for small and medium businesses.

What is Local SEO?

The term local SEO refers to the efforts required to rank well in the local search engine results.

It means that your digital business will appear when users enter keywords in Google’s search bar that include the name of the products you sell and the city.

Or when they type keywords related to the service you offer, along with the neighborhood where they need it or the nearest street.

Google will use its map to suggest your business to everyone in the vicinity, province, or nearby cities.

It is mandatory to have positive reviews in your Google profile.

Last but not least, a collaboration between small businesses in your area may bring awareness and interest.

When a website with good authority metrics, like DA or PA, links to your website, Google sees it as a good reference and automatically increases your ranking in SERPs.

A collaboration with a local company may begin at trade fairs and become an online marketing campaign.

Digital transformation, SEO, and voice search

There is another aspect to consider: SEO voice search.

Optimizing content for voice search is a good idea, as voice search is part of the future and makes everything faster and easier.

There are specific tools to find the best keywords to match the voice search intent, so there is no need to worry about this.

alexa user

Voice search keywords are different from the ones we type into the search bar with a keyboard.

Here are some examples of what you can do with Alexa at home.

When using voice search, you want to use phrases and questions more often than you do when you write queries on the search bar.

These are known as Long Tail Keywords because made of many sections and are longer than a common seed keyword.

3) Leverage social media

Is it possible to make your small store famous on social media?

It’s difficult, but you may find the best idea to make your store go viral.

More likely, you will use social to meet the locals in your area and to maintain great and ongoing relationships with those who already know your store.

Being loved on social is easy, especially if you adopt a communicative tone that is genuine, friendly, and, above all, in line with your brand style.

Instagram is the perfect social for showcasing the products you sell in-store, as it gives you plenty of trending ways to pique your customers’ interests.

Whatever the age of your target audience, you can find the right graphics and photos to attract likes, comments, questions, and requests about your products.

Many local stores only use social media to announce new arrivals, new products, news.

social media marketing

Users on social usually also follow competitors’ pages and can get distracted by something else pretty quickly.

To be sure to do your best, research your social post.

Post what your typical customers would share and like to meet their mood.

Schedule all the social posts by choosing a time of the day based on your typical customer’s daily habits.

Use advanced analytics and digital tools to discover their routine, and use the latest marketing automation tools to simplify your tasks.

Social media marketing techniques

Where do people spend most of their time?

On social media.

You need to use social to meet your next customers. 

Social media are free and easy to use, at least until you activate some PPC campaigns.

A 2021 research shows that users are conducting lengthy and meticulous research on the products they are interested in before purchasing them.

This marketing research, available here, shows that informational keywords are the most commonly used for apparel, personal health, sports, DIY, furniture, and electronics.

It means that content that offers information about products is increasingly in demand and represents a great opportunity for small businesses.

To attract followers, use Social Ads that allow you to target a specific type of audience, jobs, interests, and more.

When working with PPC campaigns on social media, grow a lookalike audience that will help you lower your advertising costs in the future, and get better results.

Quick fact: Pay-per-click campaigns are slowly becoming easier to manage thanks to the help of machine learning, as shown by the now-famous Google Ads Smart Bidding.

Once you’ve got some followers, organically or via PPC, incentivize them by offering interesting content, advice regarding your niche, useful information on how to make the most of your products, and a contest to win some free products.

Giveaways are one of the best methods to make your products known when your store is new, when you launch some new products, or to establish direct contact with your customers that is not relegated to digital advertising only.

social media digital marketing

And what about influencers?

Influencers are one of the best ways to get exposure today, from TikTok to Instagram.

If you think that hiring an influencer to reach a large audience already interested in your products is expensive, think twice.

Yes, you need to pay the influencer, but you don’t have to partner with the most famous ones.

To find a good influencer, use online platforms to receive offers from various influencers, or pay an agency to find the right one for you.

The results of a marketing and branding campaign with an influencer can be truly remarkable in terms of brand awareness, visibility, and sales.

Use Upfluence for the eCommerce entrepreneurs or Post for Rent to share your products with a wide target audience.

If you notice that you get more followers on Facebook, but more engagement on Instagram, just remember that this is quite common in several industries.

In conclusion, we don’t think all small and medium-sized businesses should go digital.

This is a choice that has to do with business expansion and the desire to broaden a business’s horizons to expand its portfolio with new and better opportunities.

Digital transformation requires an appropriate budget and a team of experts ready to work every day to monitor progress and solve problems.