Online consumerism is here to stay, and emerging franchisors need to learn how to compete in a world where at least 1.66 billion shoppers purchase goods and services online. Worldwide e-commerce sales are on an upward trajectory and are expected to be more than double what they were in 2016 by 2021, hitting $4.878 trillion.
Consumers can buy just about any product online – books, cars, clothing, meals, musical instruments, trips and much more. They can also purchase services from an expansive array of options – fitness workouts, home improvement, pest control, restoration and countless others.
As an emerging franchisor, your business planning should include ways that allow consumers to purchase your products or services from their smartphones, tablets, laptops or desktop computers. But, you also need to know how to attract consumers in order to encourage them to buy from you and not your competitors.
The Appeal of Online Shopping
Consumers appreciate the freedom and convenience e-commerce provides. Since they can make purchases from anywhere in the world at any time of the day or night thanks to mobile devices, they don’t experience pressure from salespeople. They can even peruse inventory at their leisure. In fact, they don’t even need a salesperson since they use their devices to research products and services before buying. Even people who still purchase products from physical locations do research on products before walking into a store.
Shopping online also allows consumers to compare the same products without commuting to multiple locations. It’s easier to conduct comparison shopping from one spot, whenever you feel like it, using your phone or tablet.
It’s critical for emerging franchisors need to figure out how to get noticed among the myriad brands vying for consumer attention on the Internet.
Introduce Yourself with Inbound Marketing
Online consumers also avoid or ignore aggressive marketing tactics, such as pop-up ads or anything else that feels intrusive. Increasingly, inbound marketing campaigns are being used as an effective way to introduce brands to online consumers. Here’s how:
- Know Your Audience - While it would be nice to satisfy every online consumer’s need, it’s unrealistic. So, you have to make sure you target the right people and understand what they need. To do this, you need to collect and analyze data captured from visitors to your website, apps, point of sale systems and other Internet-connected platforms. The information will be useful for creating buyer personas, which will help you hone your inbound marketing content to target consumers who are most likely to buy from your brand.
- Informs consumers – Well-written and informative content regularly published on your company’s blog and posted on the social media platforms you use will provide consumers with information they need to make purchasing decisions. By using keywords in your blog content and social media posts, you will also improve your search engine ranking, which will make your brand easier to find. Ultimately, this should lead them to your website when they are ready to make a purchase.
- Establishes a good reputation – Your franchise development efforts should include an inbound marketing strategy comprised of content creation, such as a blog and press releases, social media postings and search engine optimization. This strategy will help your brand develop a good reputation while consumers shun and distrust brands that still use tactics that disrupt their online experience. Inbound marketing gets your name in front of consumers while creating a sales environment free of pressure.
- Target Franchisee Candidates, Too - The strategy for online consumerism can be applied to franchise development, as well. When entrepreneurs visit your website to learn more about the franchise opportunity, they become leads when you collect their data.
You can then boost your conversion rate with nurturing campaigns that may include strategically written emails that address the benefits of joining your franchise system and removing any objections they may have.
Although online consumerism is rapidly growing, brick and mortar franchise stores continue to grow, too. Therefore, attracting franchisee candidates is still crucial during this era of online consumerism. However, as a franchisor, you cannot ignore the rise in consumer shopping preferences and you must work e-commerce into franchise development.
With 30 years of franchising experience and more than 800 franchise owners representing over 1,200 locations for five brands, Winmark Franchise Partners can help emerging and established franchisors address concerns and develop strategies regarding online consumerism. Contact us here or at (844) 452-4600.