How Brick-and-Mortar Retailers Can Compete with Online Shopping
In recent years, there has been an increase in terms of consumers doing their shopping online and through various mobile devices and applications. That’s the trend, but does it really mean people will shop exclusively on these devices in the not-too-distant future and forget about brick-and-mortar retailers?
Why Brick-and-Mortar Stores Still Matter:
- Instant Purchase One of the biggest advantages for in-store shopping is the ability for customers to receive the product immediately. A desire for “instant gratification” or “instant ownership” is still key with some buyers. Until online retailers can find a less expensive solution for same-day delivery, in-store shopping will continue to win on this point. Also, many people still like to shop as a social activity (a day out shopping with family or friends). This experience simply cannot be replicated online.
- Touch and Feel There will always be customers who will frequent brick-and-mortar stores for the opportunity to touch, hold and feel the merchandise before purchase. This is an important aspect for some shoppers as they actually want to see what they are getting for their money and whether it’s worth it.
- Personal Service Many people still enjoy the personal connection with store employees, a well-executed store atmosphere and the customer service they receive before purchase. All of these aspects can lead to higher in-store purchases. This is important more than ever, as shoppers don’t get this immediate assistance when they shop online. They may read review after review, but it’s not always as helpful as personal assistance.
- Higher Spending Another major benefit for brick-and-mortar stores is the way in which customers spend their money whilst shopping. Some will spend more than they had originally planned while shopping in stores, as they may be influenced by beautiful storefronts and floor displays to make an impulse purchase.
How to Survive and Thrive
Traditional brick-and-mortar stores may be struggling due to the rise of online shopping, but it doesn’t mean they should lose out on sales.
Reinvent Your Store to Attract Customers
Transform your store so it becomes a shopping experience for customers. Be creative with displays and use them to showcase products. Rather than just stacking items on shelves, design imaginative and creative images for customers that helps them imagine what products would look like when put together in their own homes (e.g. bedroom or kitchen displays, storage ideas, table settings etc.)
Retailers need to add value to the transaction to make it worth the trip for the customer and away from the convenience of the computer. The entire in-store experience must be worthwhile.
- Ensure staff are knowledgeable, professional and courteous to ensure customer satisfaction.
- Continually research your customers’ needs to better understand their wants.
- Provide a pleasant and ambient store environment that is inviting to customers.
- Reassure customers’ purchases by providing warranties and guarantees.
- Create imaginative and irresistible in-store displays to attract customers.
In order to compete, you need to embrace social media. Whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or the like, retailers need to reach customers through many channels. Not only does this give your business added exposure, it’s another avenue for customers to reach you.
Consider the Internet
Brick-and-mortar stores shouldn’t ignore the Internet. Consider online as an extra option to your physical presence. Start off small with a website that has only basic information about your business (who you are, what you do/sell, where you are etc.) This is yet another opportunity for customers to find you and if they like what they see, even visit and shop in your store.
We are living in the data age where smart marketers are using all available resources to get shoppers to go online. Small retailers never position themselves as competing on price, but rather on service and those shoppers who are going to brick and mortar stores are looking for something other than discounts. They are looking for a human connection, not just a click online……. otherwise they would have just stayed at home.
Traditional department stores and malls were once the social hub for people to meet, converse, shop, eat and enjoy life. There is no reason that they cannot be re-invented and rejuvenated to serve that role once again. Ecommerce is a rapidly growing industry, but until the Internet can provide all the benefits of the in-store experience, physical stores will continue to be in demand.
In-store experiences will need to grow and evolve in order to continue to compete with the convenience of online shopping. Retailers need to go above and beyond expectations and provide an enjoyable, convenient shopping experience. This can be achieved by retailers incorporating new technologies into stores to make the shopping experience more efficient and continue to offer helpful resources for customers. The biggest challenge for a business is to create one flawless and integrated system to incorporate online and in-store shopping together. Stores that can discover a seamless way to make shopping both online and offline connect, will be the most successful.