Let Your Bookstore Embrace Technology
With the rise of technology, there has been an overwhelming convenience of resources such as books. A few taps of the screen is all it takes to purchase an e-book version of your favourite read, without even having to leave your household.
Although this spells victory for the average person, prospects do not seem too bright for the traditional bookstore; in fact, the increasing popularity of e-books and online shopping have pushed bookstores to the edge of obsolescence.
However, there are still a considerable amount of people who consider the aesthetics and experience of the bookstore to be unmatched. Therefore, they want bookstores to survive the onset of e-commerce and online presences.
The only way that can be done is simple: if you can’t beat them, join them!
If you want your bookstore to survive the heavy influence of technology, then you must embrace it – here is how:
Give People Variety
No matter how wholesome the feeling of reading a physical book is, most people just don’t want to bother with hoarding piles of paperbacks and hardcovers. They’d much rather have their own portable libraries stored in digital devices like Kindles or tablets.
Instead of fighting their choice, embrace it by giving your customers the choice to purchase both physical and digital copies of books online. Though this sounds counter-intuitive, an online presence actually helps build credibility and popularity. Customers appreciate a variety of choice to pick from, and so will gravitate towards your store the more you consider their preferences. Amazon has expertly used this approach to become credible book sellers – and so can you.
Improve The Customer Experience
The main reason people still want bookstores to last is because they value the feeling of entering a bookstore, browsing through shelves, and purchasing their favourite find. A great way to make your store last is by building on that unique experience.
And yes, you can use technology to do so! Customer Relationship Management Systems let you conduct customer surveys, so that you better learn preferences of your customers; do they want more discounts or literary events? Would they be interested in merchandise, or sales on certain books? The more you tap into the minds of your customers, the better you’ll know how to cater to their interests.
Upon conducting surveys, analyse their results and put them into action. Make sure that whatever you do ultimately improves customer relationships: improve communication via email and social media, offer quality customer service from employees with tablet-based book searches, make the book-browsing process easy by installing LEDs displaying available book titles – the possibilities are endless.
Make sure you provide an experience that is unique without being overbearing. Customers are increasingly expecting memorable journeys from retailers, and so you should deliver.
Promote Customer Loyalty
If you want customers to keep coming back for more, you need to make them feel special for considering your store in the first place.
Therefore, be rewarding of loyal customers. Brooklyn’s Greenlight Bookstore, for example, has successfully turned its Loyalty Program into a “Gifts Program”, where customers get a gift when their purchases reach a total of $250.
You can either adopt the same principle, or go even more creative than that. The gist is to make customers feel special for choosing your store, so that they respect your presence more. Not only will they revisit your store more often, they will also recommend it onward to more people. That way, your bookstore will never lose its importance in the eyes of the masses.
Where Do We Start?
Start by investing in a good bookstore POS. Ones like Oscar stand out because of the multiple management systems it offers; multi-store management, inventory management, employee management, accounting system – the list goes on.
This POS in Pakistan has its own Customer Management System that not only allows you to send out personalised questionnaires, but also creates customer profiles so that you can better learn purchasing behaviours. Furthermore, it’s Loyalty Program rewards people. This makes it easy for you to segregate customers in terms of their cumulative interactions with your store.
Just because technology is becoming popular, doesn’t mean that the traditional bookstore has to perish. In fact, you can make it through the tech-storm by changing tactics, and you’ll definitely come out victorious.