India is the fourth largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity and the 7th largest in terms of GDP (Source: World Bank: http://bit.ly/Ku5FYg ) Moreover, India is ushering in an era of interconnectivity. With 981Mn mobile subscribers (TRAI: June 2015), a 10-12% YOY growth rate, most Indians would skip the internet generation and directly go mobile. Compounded with mobile growth, social media access is growing at a rapid rate. According to ourmobileplanet.com, 76% urban smart phone users accessed social networking sites on their mobile phones as opposed to 67% who accessed these sites on a laptop/desktop. The need for every retail business, big or small, is to focus on SoLoMo: Social, Local & Mobile.
In India, approximately 10% of the retail market is organised (http://www.cci.in/pdf/surveys_reports/indias_retail_sector.pdf) – the likes of Big Bazaar, Reliance Fresh etc. The remaining 90%, mostly single outlet retails stores have a modest or a near to nil marketing budget. This limits their marketing efforts to pamphlets in a local newspaper or small billboards in nearby areas. How can a local restaurant or a boutique fashion store leverage SoLoMo to differentiate itself from a store next door? Here is a list of free digital tools every retailer can work with to tap into the local market and get customers to walk in to their stores. Note: Tools have been listed in order of simplicity (in terms of tech expertise required to implement)
- Google My Business Listing
Formerly known as Google Places, it allows retail stores to create an address for its store/chain of stores. The store front is then represented on Google Maps (both desktop & mobile version) and within local Google searches.
Google My Busines is by far the best solution for a retail business to be present across multiple Google properties. Moreover, each listing can be Search Engine Optimized by using relevant business keywords. For e.g. a flower shop can put flowers, gift flowers, flowers home delivery, flowers bouquet etc. as specific keywords on which it’s listed on Google properties. To get started, visit google.com/places. On more tip – you can invite an official Google photographer to take pictures of your retail store. Starting with Hyderabad, Google would be creating virtual store fronts for all businesses that can be browsed in a map (street view).
- Olx, Quikr, JustDial.com listing
Olx, Quikr, JustDial.com are local, category based search engines. With millions of Indian stores / local businesses already listed on these sites, if you have not yet done so, you are missing the bus. Listings are either free or paid (weekly/monthly/quarterly/annual) and can be done in a jiffy. Once a listing is created online, it gets approved by a customer service representative and then goes public.
JustDial.com has gone the celebrity way having roped in Amitabh Bachhan to advertise it’s 08888888888 number.
- Listing on niche industry specific web sites / mobile apps:
If you are a restaurant, you need to be on zomato.com. If you are a retail business that hinges on night life, events or shopping, you need to be on burrp.com. Creating a business listing on burrp, zomato or the hyper local mobile apps like TinyOwl / Food Panda will definitely earn your business some brownie points. With customers actively writing reviews of your business, such sites create a fantastic avenue for getting feedback on customer service and other business offerings.
On burrp.com, you can add your local business to the myriad of listings that already exist. Moreover, you can add a phone number, menu (restaurant), and photos of your business.
- In-store advertising:
Here is your opportunity to woo the customer to come back to your store for more. A lot of retailers in the US are using QR codes to drive traffic to web store fronts. Although QR code and image recognition in-store integrations are close to zero in India, most retailers should take this into consideration.
Creating a QR code is easy. Simply type in ‘QR Code generator’ in your Search engine and you will get a number of free QR Code creators.
- Coupons & Deal sites
Have a compelling offer to lure your customers? Why not advertise on a Coupondunia.in or a grabon.in?
Once you list an offer online, the customer pays a portion of the deal value upfront to the website and then pays the remainder amount at your store. Moreover, you can create offers that can be redeemed only online or only at a store.
- Accept mobile payments:
Mobile payments are set to take off with an active mobile internet population of 80 Million and growing. PayTM, MobiKwik and almost every bank in India is offering its mobile wallet.