My veterinarian has a tiny showroom area with barely enough room for more than a couple of patients to wait for their appointments, let alone hold shelves filled with products. I, like many pet owners, rely on specialty food for our furry friends that we can only buy at the vet clinic, so it was becoming a real hassle to arrive for our appointment and be told they are out of the product we need. Even calling ahead didn’t always guarantee they would have the items I needed in stock, which would lead to me having to drive halfway around the city to find that special brand that my (fussy) pup loves.
But in the past year, my vet came up with a great solution to extend their physical space and make it even more convenient for me to spend money on high-end pet food: they found a virtual pet food supplier to create an endless aisle. From the comfort of my home, I can order my dog’s food, treats and accessories easily through a storefront branded for my vet clinic, and if I happen to be at my vet’s and they are out of the products, they just enter my order into their system and it arrives on my doorstep a day later.
Even better, my vet has the record of what I’ve ordered on my file, so if my dog runs into problems, they know what they’ve tried and can suggest something new.
Lots of retailers, even beyond vets, are now transitioning to having zero inventory and putting excess inventory in an online shop to create an endless aisle for their customers. With an endless aisle, the customer can make individual purchases or set up regular deliveries for food and personal care items on a cadence that works for their lifestyle. Knowing you can get what you want without having to consciously remember every month to make a purchase is a convenience that most shoppers crave and in some cases are happy to pay a premium for.
For retailers, the gains from offering an Endless aisle are obvious and immediate: for every customer you sign on for a subscription to products, the more passive income you can count on every month when looking at your sales targets. The more customers who receive their goods regularly and frictionlessly will feed into your intake funnel through referrals, organically adding to your bottom line.
There’s another reason to offer an endless aisle, which is the same reason grocers have gum near the point of sale: impulse items. In setting up your subscription service, you’ll look at a wide selection of items and might decide to add a few smaller things. Your cart might be nearing the magical number to receive free shipping, so you add some items you know you will need in future just to escape the shipping charge.
Just because consumers have set up a frictionless delivery schedule doesn’t mean you can’t expect an increase in these impulse purchases. Every time someone greets the delivery person at the door or sees the box on their doorstep, your brand has made a touch with them. They will momentarily think about your brand. If your brand hasn’t considered creating an endless aisle, now might be the time to, as the benefits are numerous.
The Endless Aisle can also help you capture shoppers who forgot to complete a transaction in store, but still have a need. Often, these customers are lost to competing companies closer to where that customer lives, works, or is already running errands. Knowing they can visit your store in a convenient way on their own schedule keeps them loyal to you, and physically out of competitors’ stores.
You may not know this, but Salesfloor can help your company set up an Endless Aisle easily. Customers can log on, shop, even receive shopping advice, customized offers and receive the kind of care they would be used to in store, all from within the site. Once they’ve completed their purchase or set up their delivery schedule, you can gain insights into what they’re looking at and how regularly they are using your services.
Understanding how often customers purchase is as important as understanding what they are most likely to purchase. Customers will often walk away if they are feeling upsold in a store, but if you are walking them through their purchases and helping them at the exact time they have a need, they are less likely to shop elsewhere and more likely to recommend you to friends and family.
People like to recommend brands that solve a problem for them without them having to invest a lot of time and energy on research or comparison. Your integrated sales team, combines with analytics and purchase cadence knowledge is an unbeatable combination that could help you acquire customers, keep customers, and develop customer evangelists, the holy grail for retailers.
The advantages of the Endless Aisle are too numerous for retailers to ignore, just like the siren call of a store that customers trust, with excellent sales help, available at their convenience is nearly impossible to ignore. Even people who love to shop have items they simply hate or resent having to shop for, not to mention how busy everyone seems these days.
If you’re continuously solving problems for customers, leaving them with positive experiences, you’ve set up one of the most powerful marketing systems in the world: word of mouth referral. The combination of word of mouth referral with subscription based deliveries could transform your bottom line.