Uploading photos and buying prints online is becoming the new norm. Younger generations that grew up with technology are profoundly influencing business, and every year more and more transactions that once took place off-line are being moved online.
Within the art and photo space, you have companies like Art.com whose revenues exceed $200 million annually.
And they are not alone.
You have Canvas On Demand, Easy Canvas Prints, Picture it on Canvas, Zazzle, and dozens of other companies doing tens of millions, and even hundreds of millions in revenue, all based on consumers uploading their photos and buying “photo gifts”.
Together, this is a multi-billion dollar space. Needless to say, the online marketplace for photo printing services is thriving.
If you’re reading this, we’re going to assume that you already well aware of this and won’t waste time on it.
If you are not aware, Google search something like “photo printing” or “canvas prints”, and add your city or state on the end (i.e. “photo printing austin”). Look at the flood of offers, read some articles and view some competitor websites, do some research and learn. Then come back to this article.
The online marketplace for photo printing services is thriving because it is easier and less work for consumers to upload photos in the convenience of their own homes, buy prints and/or other photo gifts, and have them show up at their doorstep a few days later or have it directly shipped to a loved one.
In fact, almost every order that requires drop shipping (i.e. when someone sends a gift, or a photographer needs to drop-ship directly to a customer) is now being placed online.
This is because the convenience so far outweighs the headache of trying to do this in person. Which means, if you even want to sell to these types of customers, you must provide a robust self-service online ordering option.
Not surprisingly, it is the reason why we have consumer photo upload sites on our platform here at Art Storefronts who do individually produce millions of dollars in revenue just from a single website.
But while some of our customers are strictly an online play, many of our customers are a hybrid. Meaning, they have a physical retail presence, as well as an online presence.
Some of these hybrid retailers do extremely well in both channels. Some do not.
Surprisingly, what makes these hybrid retailers successful is proving to come down to one factor.
The hybrid retailers that do well in both channels have a well-defined and executed brick-to-click strategy, and the others do not.
It’s really that simple.
And while this won’t apply to every business, we have seen a trend with those who have a successful brick-to-click strategy. They tend to be much more successful retailers in general. Those who don’t have a strategy, have never heard of the concept of brick-to-click, or have never implemented a strategy for it, tend to be amongst those who are struggling, short on cash, etc.
This article applies to photo imaging retailers, art galleries, and also professional artists and photographers who regularly do in-person fairs and shows to sell their work. If you have a physical retail presence and you rely on that retail presence to generate the majority of your revenue, this article is for you. We’re going to explain what brick-to-click is, and show you how other retailers have successfully implemented brick-to-click strategies and how you can too.
A strategy that methodically and successfully converts a large percentage of walk-in traffic into customers that buy both in the store, or online, or both, and do so repeatedly.
And so it goes, there are retailers who are employing a serious brick-to-click strategy and have dramatically increased their business by capturing the additional orders that would have otherwise been placed through online competitors.
And this is not about capturing an order by pure luck…
These brick-to-click strategies, over time, seek to build a relationship of familiarity, confidence, and trust with customers (or potential customers) in order to make their business the “go-to” spot, and top-of-mind, whenever the customer is thinking of buying a particular product and service that the retailer offers.
In other words, it is an all-encompassing strategy designed to remain top of mind in the customer psyche & and make their business the primary choice whenever said customer is thinking of purchasing a relevant product.
And then there are the other retailers who have no serious brick-to-click strategy, who lob up a website, maybe collect an email address here or there from a retail customer, and enter it into a computer system that is largely never used.
Ultimately, they are left wondering why eCommerce isn’t really working for their business. Some literally launch their website with an expectation that fish would just jump into the boat. When fish don’t jump into the boat, they dismiss it as something that doesn’t work for their business.
And in a way, they are right. If you launch something with either a bad strategy or no strategy at all, its never going to work.
But overall, the major problem here is that unlike the other successful retailers, these retailers don’t have an all-encompassing strategy to be the “go-to” spot.
And on the topic of brick-to-click specifically, the bottom line is this: If you don’t actually define and execute a methodical brick-to-click strategy, and you don’t track the performance data of such a strategy so that you can understand what is working and what is not, you’ll never reach a successful outcome.
If you are reading this article with the mindset of potentially implementing brick-to-click, read that sentence again, and let it be your guiding post in the months ahead.
Because any all-encompassing strategy to be the go-to spot will have to involve brick-to-click. There is no way around it.
We’re now going to lay out the common strategy we are seeing that is really working. We recommend starting with this first. Once you have successfully implemented it as a natural part of your business, and are tracking your own performance data, you can then augment it to drive further performance.
Here it goes:
If you are an ASF Customer, we’ve built this functionality right into our Form Creator Tools.
See this knowledgeable article on how you can create a custom form for this specific purpose.
This form will also send an automated email with your own custom content (such as the coupon code) – more on that in a second.
Run a contest every month (or week) with a drop-your-business-card in the fishbowl.
Educate your employees that collecting an email address is like collecting a potential future sale.
Train your employees on how they should encourage people to either fill out the form or drop their business card in the fish bowl.
“Sir, if you’d be so kind as to enter your email address here, we’ll send you a 25% off coupon you can use to buy something from our website. We want you to know that its just as easy to order from us online as it is to come in, and you can even pick up orders in the store.”
When someone fills out the full screen form, it should go directly into this Centralized Contact Manager.
At the end of each week, someone needs to manually enter the business cards collected into the Centralized Contact Manager.
If you are an ASF Customer, we have a built in Contact Manager. This should be your centralized database. Whenever someone fills out a form on your tablet, or when you manually input email addresses (as outlined in Step 1), a contact is automatically created within your Contact Manager.
When someone gives you their email address, they should be immediately sent a one-time coupon to buy online.
Something like 20-25% off their first order would be appropriate.
The psychology here is to provide immediate reinforcement that they can also buy online with you. This way, the next time they think of ordering a photo-related product, they remember they have this coupon from you an they use it, rather than going directly to Google and finding someone else.
If you are an ASF Customer, this email can be automatically sent whenever the form is submitted. Which means all you and your team need to do is collect emails, and the software will automate the rest for you. Here’s how you do that (step 10).
You should be sending 1 email per month (at least) to your entire email list for the purpose of building relationships and staying top-of-mind with your customers and potential customers.
Notify them of updates, product ideas around the Holidays, remind them that its easy to start a new order online. Always try to include references that remind them that you are a local business. For example, you might mention a local charity you donated a print to, or a cause that your business is supporting.
Resist the urge to be “salesy” and don’t offer discounts all the time. Instead, provide information and value, and devise an email strategy that people actually look forward to receiving.
Here’s a great example of a real estate agent from Newport Beach, CA doing this right. This agent emails his customers once a month with historical information about certain aspects of the city. They are educational, informative, and fun. And they have nothing to do with real estate!
But recognize the genius in this. This real estate agent is managing to send his potential future customers an email every month without looking salesy or spammy.
They see his brand each time. He builds a relationship with them. He stays top-of-mind the entire time. So when the time ever comes that they want to sell their house, or buy a house, he’s in the best position to earn the business.
Offer discounts strategically at times when people tend to buy photo gifts. Specifically, Christmas (don’t forget black Friday & Cyber Monday), Valentines Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day. Be sure to send your first offer out 2-3 weeks in advance. Then send reminder offers up until a few days before the actual Holiday.
For more, see our article on Holiday Email Marketing.
“What gets measured, gets managed” – Peter Drucker
In order to understand whether your brick-to-click strategy is working, you need to pay attention to a few key metrics.
The number of contacts you are generating per month – this tells you how well you and your team are doing at collecting email addresses during a given month. As you implement new strategies, you will be able to see how effective they are.
If you’re not collecting email addresses, you basically have no brick-to-click strategy. So it all starts with this metric. When advising our own customers, this is the first metric we look at.
Your Contact Conversion Rates – this tells you how many of your contacts are converting into customers. So, once you are steadily collecting email addresses, you now need to focus on converting them into customers. This metric will tell you how effective you are at doing this. As you make improvements to your strategy, you will want to track this metric over time to see how they are affecting it, positively or negatively.
If you are an ASF Customer, all of this is conveniently located in your Statistics section.
In the Acquisition report, you can see how many contacts you are generating over a period of time, as well as measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.
In this example, we installed the ASF built-in lead capture tool and monitored what happened:
In the General Info, you can see your total contacts generated in a given month, and the contact conversion rate, as seen below:
As we said before, people are buying these photo-related products online whether you like it or not. Therefore, there is something amazingly positive about this opportunity for retailers that you should be very happy about. The vast majority of brick-to-click revenue is going to be new revenue for your business. In other words, revenue that you otherwise would not have received, and are not receiving right now. Awesome!
Brick-to-click is also a defensive strategy that empowers retailers to fight back against the online competition and fully leverage the advantages of their local retail presence. And having a physical retail presence is a serious advantage when competing online, but only if it is properly leveraged.
Think about it. Your online competitors rely primarily on internet searches to get business. They have no retail presence that someone can go visit to pick something up, or to return something. They can’t just visit the place and see what the products actually look like. They also have nobody to build a relationship with. The physical retail store, on the other hand, offers all of this – if, of course, the business is well run and understands this dynamic.
Therefore, it is easy to see that when a physical retailer employs a successful brick-to-click strategy, it makes it very difficult for online-only retailers to compete. When all things are the same, and when given the choice, consumers will always buy online from a store that has a local physical presence because of the added confidence, comfort, and peace of mind. Wouldn’t you? Exactly.
“I can always just drive down the street and visit the store.” Or, “I know Joe. And Joe will always take care of me.”
If you have a retail presence, you’ve got serious advantages. You’ll be able to fully leverage them once you’ve employed a brick-to-click strategy.
If we can't teach you, no one can!