Web-to-store: where the Internet helps brick-and-mortar stores
Life is hard for small independents. Large shopping centres, chain stores and franchise networks threaten their survival. The weak point of small convenience stores lies in the limited number of customers: besides local residents, not a lot of people come to visit them. A website to recommend products and boost your business can help, even if only to a limited extent.
However, it is the social networks that can play a significant role. Users increasingly base their purchasing decisions on references from other users they find online on different sites. Fancy going out for dinner? All you need to do is grab your smartphone and search for the restaurants people liked in your neighbourhood, giving high ratings to their food and ambiance. Need a haircut? Just take a couple of seconds to find out which barbers specialise in Queen Fabiola-inspired hairstyles and which ones go for a more experimental work, and see what people thought about them.
But, for small independents, there is another benefit to these online reviews: when the feedback is positive, users will be more inclined to go a little farther than the shop on the corner to purchase good quality products or services. An Italian deli that has homemade lasagne, a sandwich bar that makes original and healthy sandwiches… These are things that Internet users can discover by word of mouth, but also using the Internet and social networks.
In short, web-to-store is a phenomenon that cannot be overlooked, even if you have a store that does not sell online. The web can be a wonderful means of attracting more visitors to your outlet. So, be on the net, and make sure people can find you using their mobile devices on location-based social networks such as GoudenGids.be, Foursquare, Google Maps, etc.