5 Ways To Boost Your Brick-And-Mortar Business In The Era Of Social Media

If you haven't taken the digital plunge so far, don't jump in with both feet - you will literally drown! To ace social media and gain serious traction takes a lot of work, so start with baby steps

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Back in the Seventies, it was trendy to say that video killed the radio star. Trending today is the pitch that online retail is killing traditional brick-and-mortar businesses. The facts, however, tell a different story. Online retail may be raking in some big bucks, but the brick-and-mortar business model is proving to be just as tenacious as the radio. From small stores to mega mall-fronts, the traditional retail store is singing a happy tune — all the way to the bank.

Syda Productions | Shutterstock

So, what is the trick to staying alive (and thriving) in an ever-changing entrepreneurial environment? Read on to discover five ways to boost your brick-and-mortar business in this era of social media.

Balance Tradition and Technology: Brick-and-mortar businesses live in an offline world but they must embrace the online space with equal enthusiasm. Recent research suggests a staggering 120 million Indian consumers were expected to shop online in 2018. Don't be intimidated by these numbers. The average Indian consumer still wants the touch-and-feel experience of a retail store, but it helps to lead potential clients in your direction by dominating the digital world. Facebook, Twitter and (perhaps most of all) Instagram cannot be ignored as tools to market your traditional retail business. The veteran brick-and-mortar businessman may feel like he's heading back to school while learning to navigate the world of social media, but there's no avoiding it. If you really want to boost your brick-and-mortar business in the age of the Internet, the first step is to strengthen your online presence.

Embrace a Niche: There's no substitute for expertise and while large online retailers generally offer everything (from A to Z, no pun intended), brick-and-mortar businesses benefit from having a sphere of specialization. Our business thrives on being known as the go-to place for designer fans. Once we had established ourselves as market leaders in this segment, we widened our product offering to include fine décor items. Take a page out of our book and expand once you've captured a specific corner of the market.

Offer an Experience: Several successful online retailers have set up "experience centres' over the last few years, which is certainly a testimonial in favour of traditional retail. Take a tip from this trend and offer a retail "experience' that keeps customers coming back for more. Never underestimate the value of good window displays and visual merchandising. Remember that while mass production is the name of the game with large online retailers, brick-and-mortar businesses do "bespoke' better than anyone else. That said, service is paramount, so focus on pushing the envelope in this area.

Be Social, the Smart Way: We've already stressed on the need to balance tradition and technology, but there's a fine line between embracing the digital space and overspending to achieve visibility. These days, customers want an authentic experience and voice; they want to connect with a brand in a way that is not one-sided. To engage and acquire new customers on social media, it is important to develop a brand personality that is genuine. If you are looking to communicate the value proposition of your brick-and-mortar business without breaking the bank, use every AI tool at your disposal, along with surgically marketing to relevant customer bases. Hire a professional to help you if this is more than you can manage. Over time, once a social media marketing structure is set, you may well be able to handle its day to day maintenance in-house.

Don't Try to do it All: If you haven't taken the digital plunge so far, don't jump in with both feet — you will literally drown! To ace social media and gain serious traction takes a lot of work, so start with baby steps. Identity the social media platforms that are most suited to presenting your business well and then populate your pages accordingly. Truth be told, you really don't need to be everywhere, so focus on what's important. Food, fashion, beauty and décor related businesses tend to do well on Instagram, while Facebook is great for branding, community-building and customer engagement. LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube are a few other notable platforms. Remember that once you get the ball rolling, you need to maintain momentum, so don't spread yourself too thin. Start strong and keep going!