For years we’ve been witnessing ecommerce stores reshaping the retail landscape. However, we’re not really aware of how much they owe it to traditional brick-and-mortar.
More and more consumers are indeed turning to online shopping, but the jury is still out about whether conventional shops are a thing of the past. In fact, around 94% of shoppers are already heading back to physical stores.
Regardless of ecommerce’s steady growth, its ancestors – brick-and-mortar businesses still play a huge role in their advancement. That said, let’s take a look at the benefits of online shopping and five lessons ecommerce stores can learn from brick-and-mortar.
The benefits of online shopping
Online shopping has revolutionized the way we shop, providing consumers with a range of advantages. Below listed are some of the benefits of online shopping.
- Convenience. In the past, people would start the car and go to the nearest store. Fast forward to today, and consumers can browse and purchase products from the comfort of their own homes. Not much more than a few clicks is needed to have your shopping list’s products delivered to your doorstep.
- Greater variety of brands and products. Online retailers often tend to offer a wider choice of products, which is why online shopping can be the perfect way to find that unique product that’s not available in your local store.
- Absence of crowds. We’re all aware of how crowded malls can get, especially during holidays and weekends. Shopping online doesn’t require you to barge through crowds and long waiting lines making your shopping experience more relaxing and enjoyable.
- Easier to compare prices. Different stores put different prices and consumers usually hunt for those selling their products at a lower price. However, running from store to store isn’t always convenient. When the cost difference is significant, ecommerce shopping makes it easier to compare prices and product features, helping consumers save time and money.
Why brick-and-mortar stores are still essential to retail
Despite the constant rise of ecommerce, physical stores remain relevant and haven’t become obsolete. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why brick-and-mortar stores are still an essential component of the retail industry.
- Hands-on experience. Physical stores give consumers the option to see, touch, or try on a product before making a purchase. Considering that 49% of consumers have noted that not being able to try a product is their least favorite aspect of online shopping, this does come in handy.
- Personalized customer service. In-store associates can offer customers expert advice and help them make informed purchasing decisions. While internet capabilities never cease to amaze us, that same level of personalization is difficult to achieve in an online setting.
- Brand loyalty. Physical stores make it easier for customers to interact with the brand. Not only that, but they’re at advantage of showcasing their brand identity, values, and culture.
- Reduced cost of returns. Consumers are more likely to return a product they bought online than in a store. According to David Sobie, they return 5-10% of what they purchased in a store and 15-40% of what they bought online.
The advantages of combining physical and online stores for retailers and customers
The ever-evolving e-commerce industry makes it harder for retailers to decide between traditional brick-and-mortar and online stores. There are too many things to consider, but the first question that comes to mind is – which one will lead to better profits?
Combining both physical and online stores will eliminate the need for making that decision. Not only that, but such a combination provides retailers with several benefits, which neither of them can offer on their own.
Improved customer experience
Blending the online and physical stores can provide a more seamless customer experience. For example, customers can research and order the product online, but they can pick it up in-store or vice versa. This can save them a great deal of time and can lead to a more convenient shopping experience.
Increase in customer base
While staying in contact with existing customers, reaching out to new potential ones can also drive business growth. Combining both brick-and-mortar and ecommerce stores can help you easily achieve this.
Some people prefer to shop in-store, while some prefer to do it online. If your business offers both options, you’re more likely to have a wider range of customers. At the end of the day, a good customer base helps your brand grow and generate revenue.
Navigating big box stores made easy with in-store guides and apps
Navigating through a store, especially in those with a floor area of more than 50,000 feet can be overwhelming for customers, and that’s why a strategy or a guide is needed.
For example, if you’re planning on buying a golf course, you can go through Lightspeed’s golf course buyer’s guide. The same goes for retail stores. If you’re looking for a specific product in a large retail store, having a guide in hand can help you find it more easily and have a more efficient shopping experience. That’s exactly why so many big box stores tie their inventory and in-store locators to their mobile apps.
Better customer insights
If you’re struggling to keep your customers satisfied, you probably don’t have enough customer insight. Combining both physical and online stores helps retailers to gather and analyze data from both online and in-store sales. That way you can better understand customer preferences and their behavior towards your brand.
As mentioned above, some customers prefer physical shopping, while some prefer shopping online. Their decision depends on many things, but the payment method is one of the most important ones.
A combination of physical and online stores provides customers with different purchasing options. For example, those who prefer in-store shopping can be immediately directed to online sales and vice versa, which can significantly increase revenue and sales.
5 lessons that ecommerce stores can learn from brick-and-mortar
With ecommerce constantly evolving, it can be easy to forget its predecessors. However, traditional brick-and-mortar stores have been around for much longer and are everything ecommerce stores are based on.
Taking that into account, there are a lot of valuable lessons ecommerce stores can learn from brick-and-mortar to improve their business and customer experience.
1. Make data-driven decisions
Nowadays, the internet gives a lot of opportunities to gather data. However, most ecommerce businesses are basing their decisions on gut feeling rather than data and information.
The same cannot be said about brick-and-mortar stores, as even without a precise sales tracking system, they’re still managing to be profitable and know exactly how many products are left in stock. Considering this, it’s safe to say that the data-decision-making area in online businesses can be further enhanced.
2. Greet your customers
Remember when the store assistant would say ‘’welcome to our shop’’ and immediately make your day better? Those were simpler times. This level of personalized contact can be hard to implement in online retail, but live chat apps help to some extent.
Welcoming a customer is important for both brick-and-mortar and ecommerce stores. It’s definitely easier for physical stores, but online store retailers should implement live chat for customer support if they want their customers to feel valued and come back to shop again.
3. Create an engaging shopping experience
Like eye-catching displays are a great way to attract customers in physical stores, creating a user-friendly website with engaging content is the advantage of online stores.
An attractive storefront with creative displays and an inviting atmosphere in traditional brick-and-mortar can be interpreted as using high-quality images and concise product descriptions, along with a user-friendly interface.
4. Provide straightforward deals and promotions
Online stores often provide confusing deals and promotions, which can discourage customers from making a purchase. They do this through unclear terms and conditions, technical errors, and ambiguous messaging.
On the other hand, brick-and-mortar businesses ensure their staff is knowledgeable about deals and promotions, and use signages to highlight these. Taking this into account, there’s obviously still room for improvement in online stores in terms of deals and promotions.
5. Enhance customer service
Customer service is key to customers’ loyalty. Like physical stores can address customers’ needs and wants with the help of store assistants, ecommerce stores can try to do the same. The personalized shopping experience is guaranteed to improve customers’ satisfaction and loyalty, and drive sales.
Store assistants go the extra mile to satisfy customers and it has worked for many years. It’s about time online stores start doing the same.
Physical retail is not dead
There’s no denying that ecommerce is reshaping the future of retail, but traditional brick-and-mortar is far from dead. The internet capabilities seem to be endless, but there are still a number of things online stores can’t mimic.
To sum it up, online shopping is far more advanced, but some traditional ways are evergreen. That’s why, despite significant developments in online retail, it shouldn’t forget its foundation and can still learn a lot of valuable lessons from brick-and-mortar.