With a growing ease in technology, low startup costs, and nothing stopping business owners from reaching beyond their home markets, it’s no surprise we’ve seen a spike in online business in recent years but despite their success, e-commerce sites still only claim a small percentage of total sales.

amount-of-online-salesThe Census Bureau of the U.S. Department of Commerce reported that in the fourth quarter of 2016, online sales accounted for only 8.3 percent of all sales, with the remaining 91.7 percent still being generated by traditional local businesses.

Brick and mortar businesses are still thriving players in the retail network and it is their ability to form strong bonds with their customers that give them the advantage over online competitors. At the same time, smart business owners understand how much the online landscape has changed the way consumers buy. To that end, the future of brick and mortar businesses will rely heavily on digital savviness, particularly regarding marketing technologies, to retain a competitive advantage over their online peers.

One area where brick and mortar can look to adapt is in the use of digital acquisition and retentionsearch-research graphic tools. In an age when 81% of purchases begin with online research and 60% start with the use of a search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.), it’s important for brick and mortar locations to appear at the very point of inquiry. A solid Google+, Facebook or Yelp page will ensure that local businesses appear right alongside the online options.

Customer relationship technology such as Manning Media’s new Automated Customer Engagement software (ACE), offers a way to manage this, driving new customers to your business while keeping current customers coming back. ACE accomplishes this through automated email and text remarketing with a focus on reviews, referrals and loyalty offers. By automating this digital marketing process, business owners can focus on their customer’s in-store experience.

Although shopping online is certainly on the rise, the importance of brick and mortar storefronts hasn’t diminished. In fact, some feel retail stores are even more important and the brick and mortar business owners who leverage the advantages they already have, like customer contacts and connections, will be able to ACE the competition.

For more information on customer engagement best practices and automation such as the ACE platform call 301-620-7700 in Frederick, 301-733-4500 in Hagerstown or fill out our online request form by clicking HERE .

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