Many brick-and-mortar stores seem to be shutting down within the last few years. According to CNN Money, ” the number so far this year is triple what it was in the same period last year…There have been 5,300 store closing announcements through June 20.” That’s quite a significant number of physical stores closing in just a quarter. Do you think that your brick-and-mortar store is in jeopardy now? Are you considering diving 100% into just your e-commerce site? Well, don’t make that decision just yet. Brick-and-mortar & e-commerce are both important to today’s consumer.
Brick-And-Mortar Stores are still Opening
Many digital retailers are still opening stores. But why now? Why would they want to open a store after reading those stats of just this year alone? It’s because the customer decides what you should or shouldn’t do for your business. Customers still want that tactile experience with products, now they just want this experience after already researching items online. Newly opened brick-and-mortars are just adapting to match customer expectations of today.
Just look at a few examples of former e-tailers that are opening up brick-and-mortar stores now. Amazon just opened a 4000 square-foot data-curated bookstore in New York, with bookstores opening in Washington as well. They’re also about to break into the grocery market after their purchase of Whole Food. Vistaprint just opened up a brick-and-mortar retail store called Vistaprint Studio. Warby Parker was an online eye wear retailer that opened more than 30 shops in the US. Athleta was online only for 10 years, but after being acquired by Gap in 2008, they had 80 stores by 2014. So why is this happening?
Why have a physical store?
In order to stay competitive, the in-person experience has to be richer and more satisfying. That tactile experience mixed with customer satisfaction strategies is what sets apart one brick-and-mortar stores from the rest. Consumers don’t differentiate buying online versus in person; it’s an all-around, holistic shopping experience they’re after. Consumers want the ability to shop online and in-person depending on their needs at any given time. The main factor involved here is this: Is the brick-and-mortar experience unique and satisfying enough for consumers to try and buy the product in person? It’s a combination of the two that can set a brand apart to create a more personalized experience.
The advantage from your online store and presence is the consumer data given to you. Retailers can know when and what customers purchase and how much each customer spent. Retailers can take this opportunity to utilize data to recreate or improve the in-store or physical experience.
Use brick-and-mortar to influence e-commerce
There are methods in which a retailer can use their retail store to drive traffic and sales to their e-commerce website. Retailers can use in-store data to identify spending habits and buyer personas. Retailers can also use direct engagement and incentives to drive online traffic. That’s part of the reason why at every store, they ask for your email or some type of information to re-create a lead with email/mail newsletters or discounts. This can restart the consumer purchase journey as they interact with your emails then check online for more products. After having a good in-store experience, consumers will come back to try the product in person. Do you see the new purchase cycle here?
Both brick-and-mortar stores and e-commerce websites hold individual importance and act in unison. Consumers are becoming more tech-savvy and are basically online every minute of the day, yet they still adhere to the traditional business purchase behavior. The only difference now is that a brick-and-mortar store needs to create the right customer experience to meet consumer expectations in order to compete. Consumers expect a more personal, interactive, and humanized brand experience, they expect to find you online. A good example is Apple with their Apple geniuses. Consumers see apple everywhere online, whether in videos, ads, or on their website. And their stores are always busy because customers need that expert opinion and experience that they can’t get online. The consumer purchase behavior is simply evolving and retailers need to adapt to it.