Have you got a seasonal business?
Is your coffee roastery located near a tourist destination?
Is your brewery by the beach?
Does your distillery sit amongst snow capped peaks?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, chances are your food and drink business does the majority of its full-price (non-wholesale) trade in a limited, “peak” season.
This poses the question, what’s the easiest way for destination brands to grow sales all-year-round – both offline and online?
For us, this starts with capturing your offline customers at the point of sale.
The data you collect can be used as part of a digital strategy to drive future sales online – not to mention improve retention and increase customer lifetime value.
You can also leverage this data to identify your most loyal local customers and plan offline, revenue-boosting initiatives with this valuable audience.
Recently, Swanky has been working with a number of destination retailers struggling to connect their offline and online commerce experiences. With the cost of paid advertising on Meta and Google scaling faster and faster, diversifying your acquisition efforts with an in-person strategy is another way of filling a leaky bucket, so to speak.
I’ll be exploring this in more detail throughout this article. In particular, I’ll consider the role of POS in both online and offline strategies, looking at how retailers can capture in-store shoppers’ details and use these to drive future digital and physical sales.
Capturing customer emails at your in-store checkout
If you use a POS system that directly connects to your ecommerce platform and your email marketing platform (like Shopify’s POS offering), this puts you in a great position to capture your in-store customers’ emails and join the dots between their offline and online experience.
An example of Shopify’s POS hardware.(Source: Shopify)
You may be wondering if you could leverage a QR code to do this instead, but using a POS system facilitates a more cohesive cross-channel experience for both retailers and consumers.
When a customer is paying for their purchase at your in-store checkout, ask them if you can take their email address for your records. Give them a reason to say yes, be that the promise of exclusive offers being sent their way or VIP access to sales.
“Would you like me to email your receipt over to you?”
“And if I can sign you up to our email list so I can get a customer review after your purchase, offer you future exclusive sales and give you 10% off your order today – would that be ok?”
Driving future sales online with email marketing
Crafting a personalised email flow not only connects the physical and digital sides of your brand for a customer, it can help to build meaningful relationships with shoppers and encourage future online purchases.
Below, I’ll walk through an example of a post-POS-sign-up email progression.
A day after the customer visits your establishment:
Configure an automated email asking the customer to review the product/s they purchased. Maximise uptake by incentivising recipients with the promise of a reward.
“Thank you for visiting Burleigh Beach Alehouse – we hope you had a great time! It’d be awesome if you could review our beers (and your experience). We promise there’s a pleasant surprise awaiting you if you do!”
These product reviews have multiple benefits. They pull back to the product record on your website, improving on-site trust through social proof and positively contributing to your search engine rankings. Inline snippets are pulled through onto Google Shopping ads too, improving the efficacy of your paid media spend.
Upon review submission:
Send a follow-up email to your customer that includes a discount code for any purchase over $X.
A week later, IF the customer left a 5-star review of any products and hasn’t purchased since the discount code was sent:
Send them a follow-up email reminding them about the discount code and introducing the idea of a subscription.
“Thank you so much for your review of the *insert product name here*. If you’d be interested, you can have this delivered to your door as part of a monthly subscription. And don’t forget, you have X% off if you spend more than $X on your next order.”
Highlighting the benefits of a subscription – things like monthly savings and increased convenience – is a great way to pique a recipient’s interest.
Increasing value from local in-store shoppers with offline events
There are also offline strategies that seasonal destination brands can employ to realise additional value from in-person shoppers throughout the seasons.
For some businesses, “local” customers can be the easiest to coach and curate loyalty in. Here are some ways you can lean into this and try to make the most out of this valuable audience.
Start by creating a segment in your CRM (Klaviyo or similar) for in-store shoppers (those who have placed an order via POS).
In the example above, the segment is for anyone who has placed an order at least once via POS. You might wish to narrow this down to customers who have repeatedly purchased in-store, spent a minimum amount in your physical location, or live within a certain proximity of your store/venue.
Think about the sorts of in-person events that this segment would be interested in. What will resonate most with their needs and behaviours? VIP nights or invite-only events can be particularly powerful in making customers feel special and cultivating loyalty.
Reach out to this segment to let them know about any upcoming in-person events you’re hosting, making sure to highlight their exclusivity within your messaging.
“New single origin is in – join us for an exclusive Tasting Day next Tuesday!”
“Next week we have a guest brewer on site – sign up for Timmy Trumpet’s Northern Ales Tasting Night before general tickets go on sale.”
Don’t be afraid to leverage this segment to promote availability for private seasonal events at your venue as well.
“Have you booked your Christmas party yet?”
The more you build an in-person audience, the easier it is to create engaging and authentic content with your customers about your product. This can then be leveraged across various channels and touchpoints as an effective form of social proof.
Connecting online and offline with a paid membership program
Another way to drive repeat sales – both online and offline – from your in-store customers is with a paid membership program that gives members a discount on purchases made at your store/venue, as well those made online.
If you run a coffee roastery, for example, you might give members a $X discount on any drinks they buy whilst visiting the roastery, along with a code for free shipping of online orders.
You can encourage sign-ups in-store when you’re capturing email addresses with your POS system, or as part of a post-purchase email flow to those customers who give you their contact details.
“Want 10% off every coffee at Monty’s Coffee? Pay $50 a year and save a dollar a day on your cappuccino!”
People who pay for a membership program often demonstrate a sunk cost bias. They tend to spend more money at their favourite brand where they have a membership as they feel the need to realise the value they are paying for.
Making paid members feel special is key to your program’s success. Not only does this drive program retention, it encourages members to advocate for the program amongst friends and family.
Every time you launch a new product, announce a sale or release a new feature, send it to your paying members first and tell them explicitly that they are receiving exclusive access.
We have just brought in this Nicaraguan Single Origin for the first time, and as a member of the Coffee Savant Club, we’re giving you 7 days’ access to make sure you don’t miss out, before we release it to the wider public.
Did we mention it has caramel notes, a fruity mid flavour (think citrus), and a smooth, not-too-bitter finish?”
Understanding the value of POS as an acquisition channel
You can use your POS segment to help you understand whether customers who have had an in-person experience with your brand are more valuable than those who haven’t.
If your budget allows, you can extrapolate further. If you know your customer acquisition cost is profitable when it sits between $20-25 and you can potentially run an in-person pop up store or kiosk at a sporting event, festival or other relevant event, how much will it cost you to attempt to acquire an in-person customer outside of your home venue? Will this customer be as loyal?
For some brands, offline acquisition is simpler, acquires a more profitable and more valuable, loyal customer, and isn’t as reliant on Google and Meta’s respective algorithms. Whilst this won’t be the case for every business, it’s certainly worth exploring the value of POS as an acquisition channel.
Could Swanky help your destination brand drive sales offline & online?
Hopefully this article will inspire some offline and online strategies for driving sales more consistently throughout the year as a seasonal destination brand.
To discuss anything I’ve covered in more detail, or to continue the conversation around POS for destination retailers, please reach out to me or the rest of the team.