This is part one in a two-part series. You can read part two here. A funny thing happened on the way to eCommerce: Brick-and-mortar stores didn’t die out completely, instead they learned how to adapt to the new demands of customers across the spectrum.
Large brick-and-mortar retailers have been finding new ways to integrate eCommerce fulfillment services into their business models, as well as building deeper, customer-centric experiences in order to stay competitive in a changing commercial landscape.
Is your business still just a brick and mortar store or sticking to eCommerce alone? Marrying the two worlds is a strategy that’s working brilliantly for stores like Lowe’s and Wal-Mart. According to Forrester, “$1.5 trillion in retail sales is generated by customers who start their shopping journey online and conclude it in the physical store.” The US Census Bureau reports that eCommerce sales increased 3.7 percent, to $92.8 billion, during the first quarter of 2016, while retail sales continued to stagnate.
Marrying eCommerce with Brick and Mortar
eCommerce shops with a brick-and-mortar presence can gain a lot of credibility quickly by stepping off of the web and into the streets.
The same can be said for brick-and-mortars that reach out to the virtual world…after all, plenty of shoppers check online for websites and reviews before trying a new retailer these days. It’s easier than you think. For an eCommerce site, simply having a small mall kiosk, or a pop-up shop like the ones Amazon tested for the holiday season 2014 (and opened permanently in some locations), is enough. Brick-and-mortar retailers might start with an eCommerce order fulfillment system that allows customers to pay online and later pick up their items in store.
Giving your online shoppers a place where they can touch and see (and take home) your most popular products today can drive sales and help increase traffic to your website, too, for purchases later. The same is true for brick and mortar locations; people don’t always have time to shop in store, but they may well love your brand enough to make purchases from your online store instead. It’s the ultimate in omnichannel experience when you allow your customer to move from their desktop to their mobile device to your physical location, all without missing a beat.
The lines between online and offline retail are increasingly blurring, creating greater challenges for both traditional brick and mortar retailers and strictly digital eTailers. When consumers are demanding a shopping experience that’s a little bit in person and a little bit virtual, it can be overwhelming trying to find ways to bring that to life. Don’t worry, in part two of this two part series on marrying the virtual and the tangible, we’ll give you some great ways to do just that.