The e-commerce surge is showing no signs of slowing down, and retailers are challenged to keep up. Online shopping may increase the total number of sales, but with customers being less inclined to pay for shipping and with risks like package damage and theft, it can actually strain profit margins.

Fortunately, there are some trending ways to boost profitability while keeping customers happy (and deliveries safe).

Invest in supply chain technology

While it may seem counterintuitive to employ costly technology, the right tools will pay for themselves in no time. In fact, digitizing your entire supply chain can raise annual earnings by 3.2%.

An automated, accurate inventory system is essential to minimizing loss and maximizing profits. A solid inventory system will:

  • Include predictive analytics to help anticipate customer demands
  • Reduce unsold inventory
  • Speed up the shipping process

And when it comes to shipping, last-mile technology gives customers more control over their delivery times and destinations, which reduces the risk of package loss, damage, and theft.

Enhance the customer experience

Creating a simple, positive, and enjoyable shopping experience is the key to customer acquisition and retention.

Online strategies

Last year, the number of Americans and Canadians who made online monthly purchases totaling $100 or more went up by 61% — that comes to a monthly spending total of $220 million across North America.

As this shopping avenue continues to grow, these strategies can keep sales growing, too.

Prioritize a phone-friendly experience

Smartphone purchases will contribute to one-third of e-commerce sales this year, which means user-friendly apps (or, at the very least, mobile-optimized websites) are a must. Encouraging cell phone use in stores can increase sales as well.

Distribute loyalty rewards and personalized offers

If you reward shoppers for repeat purchases, they’re more likely to set up an account and keep coming back.

Here are some ideas:

  • Offer customers a discount code after they’ve made a certain number of purchases or have reached a particular spending level
  • Use shopper data to personalize offers and shopping experiences based on purchasing habits
  • Prompt customers to auto-ship items they order regularly
  • Send offers relevant to individual interests.

Offer free, fast shipping

Research has found that 49% of customers anticipate free standard delivery. Plus, 82% of U.S. shoppers will add more items to their carts if it means they can unlock free shipping. They also prioritize faster speeds — two-day, same-day, or in as little as one hour in metropolitan areas — and may even be willing to pay a bit more if those options are available.

In-store strategies

Even though online shopping is booming, most retailers still rely on sales from physical stores. But brick-and-mortar retailers will have to implement creative strategies to stay competitive.

Create unique shopping experiences

Some things just can’t be done online. For items like clothing, electronics, and appliances, some customers still prefer to try before they buy. Leverage opportunities for product sampling, fitting, testing, and comparing.

You can also host special events, classes, and activities to educate customers and motivate them to make in-store purchases. For example, a craft store may hold drop-in classes for project builds or skill building. A pet store may offer training and nutrition classes. These are all opportunities to promote products and sales.

Seasonal pop-ups

For stores that see more activity during certain holidays, seasons, or weather conditions, pop-up shops are a great way to take advantage of the profit opportunity.

Quick and easy checkout

Many customers are accustomed to the speedy checkouts of online ordering. In fact, if your checkout wait time is more than nine minutes, 41% of customers will abandon their carts. And 86% won’t go into stores if they can see that the lines are long.

Self-checkout is an excellent option for those who just want to stop in to grab a few items. And mobile alert systems can notify customers about current wait times or help predict the busiest hours.  

Add BOPIS options

Offering BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store) services will enable you to strike the perfect balance between the convenience of online shopping and the level of accuracy and security that comes with visiting a store.

  • Prevent package theft: With the ever-increasing risk of package theft, more consumers are turning to in-store pickups to ensure the safety of their orders.
  • Minimize shipping costs: Last-mile delivery is expensive. And if something goes wrong with during shipping, the cost of refunds, replacements, and returns adds up. Click-and-collect orders cut costs and free up time spent in order fulfillment, packaging, and delivery.  
  • Get items to customers faster: As long as all items are in stock, BOPIS orders can be ready for pickup within the same day. This satisfies customers who want to skip the aisle-browsing and checkout line but still receive their items promptly.

For an added layer of order protection, smart package lockers can keep orders safe until shoppers retrieve them. Package lockers also free up staff and simplify the pickup process. Find out how Smiota’s smart lockers can enhance your retail business.