Sebastian Fabál provides retailers with advice on how to make an in-store personality shine online.

As dealers across the country start to open their doors — many with limited in-store capacity or a “by appointment only” model — one thing is apparent: The retail landscape we once knew is changing. Even as retailers start to reopen, they should expect in-store sales to be a fraction of what they were prior to COVID-19. By my estimate, retailers’ in-store sales numbers will remain lower for the foreseeable future as customers continue to shop cautiously and store owners implement various measures to keep their customers safe.

The good news for sellers, based on what we’ve seen on Reverb, is that more people are buying more musical instruments online than ever, including many first-time buyers. Our team has been laying the groundwork for years for more players to feel comfortable buying instruments online by devoting time to video demos, price guides, support from our customer-service team full of musicians, and more. Throughout the pandemic, consumers have experienced and become more comfortable with buying music gear online, and that trend will remain, even as stores start to open.

Over the past four and a half years, I’ve worked with Reverb’s top sellers to help them better incorporate ecommerce practices into their business strategy and increase their sales online. Over the past few months, our team has worked closely with sellers looking to not only ramp up their online sales during this unprecedented time, but put processes in place to sustain their online success. One of our first tips? Consider how your presence online can mirror the in-store experience you work so hard to curate. Here are three things to consider:

Give online customers the same A+ service you provide in-store. Even when you’re not face-to-face with a potential customer, there are plenty of ways that you can show your store’s personality and top-notch service through your website or an online marketplace like Reverb. Respond quickly to messages, and don’t be afraid to have a conversation. We’ve seen instances where a buyer from one state connects with a seller in another and they build such a strong relationship that the buyer visits the retailer’s store when they’re in town.

Many of our top sellers even dedicate an employee to online sales just like you would dedicate a salesperson to the showroom floor to ensure that online customers get great service. We’ve found that buyers on Reverb are very knowledgeable and like to ask questions about what they’re looking for. When you have an expert staff member whose time is dedicated to fielding these questions and having these conversations, you can use messaging as an opportunity to build loyalty and trust.

Take as much pride in the look of your virtual shop as you do in the layout of your physical space. Dealers with brick-and-mortar locations spend a lot of time thinking about what their physical space says to customers. You should think just as critically about your online presence. Increasingly, consumers want to know who they are buying from online. How can you show your personality and your professionalism through an online destination like your Reverb shop?

Tell your story. Sims Music in South Carolina is a great example of a seller that uses its Reverb shop description to paint a picture of who the owners are and how the shop started. Consider other ways you can help your shop and your listings stand out from the crowd, like using a distinct, recognizable backdrop for your used gear listings like Rock N Roll Vintage in Chicago. Another easy way to instill confidence in buyers? Ensure your gear descriptions are detailed, error-free, include specs if possible, and that your photos are clear and consistent.

Consider the marketing and sales tactics that work in-store and use them online. Negotiating, upselling, sales and promotions: all of the tactics you’ve used over the years in your store, apply them online. Consider negotiation as an example. On Reverb, most used orders begin with an offer, and half of all counter offers from a seller result in a sale. We recommend replying to every gear inquiry with an offer, if possible. For sellers that get hundreds of questions and offers a day, we’ve even created tools to help automate that process.

On Reverb, specifically, participating in site-wide sales is another great way to get your gear in front of more buyers. Our marketing and tech teams are always working on the backend to drive more buyers to sellers’ shops, but adding your inventory to a sale is an easy way to benefit from Reverb’s email, social media and other marketing efforts.

Even as consumers move online, they still want to feel connected to the shops and brands that help them make music. By creating thoughtful and consistent touchpoints online, dealers can build loyalty and trust with online customers.

To read more columns from the Music & Sound Retailer, click here.

No more articles