Why Brick-and-Mortar Still Matters in the Retail World
By Christine Choi, SEO Associate at Fit Small Business
The statistics out there seem to indicate that we’re moving toward e-commerce only in our digital-focused retail world: after all, 21.8% of the world’s population buys products online. Does that mean that physical stores are doomed? That our future will involve drones drop-shipping our groceries, and that shoppers will never leave the house?
Probably not. Brick-and-mortar will always have its place in the retail space and in the hearts of shoppers. Here’s why.
Customer Experience Still Matters
Look at it any way you want: nothing beats the in-store experience when it comes to touching and feeling a product, as well as the way you’re treated well by store clerks. The fact that 54% of retailers say customer experience is their number one focus tells you that customers still expect to have a positive interaction with a brand.
Whether that comes from being offered a glass of champagne at a bridal shop or a customer simply being greeted by name in a store she frequents, customer experience in brick-and-mortar stores will never be topped by the online experience. For many shoppers, the act of being in a store is pampering and rejuvenating. Browsing a website can’t compete with that feeling.
Brick-and-Mortar Stores Don’t Require Shipping
Not only can customers get an item immediately when they shop in a physical store, but they also don’t have to pay shipping or a membership fee to get “free” shipping. In fact, the top reason for abandoning an ecommerce shopping cart for 58% of shoppers is due to high shipping costs.
Sure, some people may find that shopping in their pjs at home is convenient, but for the cost-conscious, going to a store is the best value in terms of getting the product quickly without paying a premium for shipping.
One Does Not Exclude the Other
No retail brand has to choose between running a brick-and-mortar or an ecommerce site. Today’s tech tools, like fancy point-of-sale systems that track inventory sold online as well as in the store, make it cost-effective to have both physical and digital presences.
In fact, having both can make for an even better customer experience: rather than shipping a return back, a shopper can bring it to the store to get instant store credit (and buy something extra while she’s there). Or, if she’s shopping in your store and you don’t have her size, you can order it to be shipped to her home.
Who Your Audience is Makes a Difference
Each generation has its own quirks when it comes to shopping preferences. Sure, Gen X, Millennials, and even the up-and-coming Gen Z prefer to buy online (or through mobile), but 84% of Baby Boomers prefer to shop in the store. So if your audience consists of older demographics, brick-and-mortar is still relevant and necessary.
Shoppers Spend More in Stores
Chalk it up to psychological marketing, shopping without a list, or those impulse buys we’re all guilty of: shoppers spend 6x more in physical stores than they do online. That’s great news for retailers who have to cover higher overhead than e-commerce brands.
Marketing strategies like using mobile loyalty programs to drive repeat in-store sales, mobile push notifications that send special offers when shoppers are physically near a store, or aggressive email marketing can not only get shoppers in your store, but also get them to spend more than they otherwise would.
Brick-and-mortar stores aren’t going anywhere any time soon. While they will continue to change to accommodate a more tech-savvy consumer, you can rest assured that your customers will always be able to drop by your store to touch and feel products, browse what’s new, and get a little retail therapy.
Christine Soeun Choi is an SEO associate at Fit Small Business specializing in digital marketing. Currently based in NYC, she has a background in business studies and math with a passion for business development. When not helping small business owners, Christine enjoys taking photos, exploring artwork, and traveling.