Brick-and-Mortar Stores vs Online Shopping
The rise of eCommerce giants like Amazon and Ebay has sent noticeable shockwaves in the brick and mortar retail industry. With Amazon on track to be the first publicly traded company valued at over 1 trillion dollars, it’s these local retailers that are feeling the pinch from shifting consumer shopping preferences.
If you’re a brick and mortar store, you might be wondering what the future holds. With the announcement of high profile closures from Macy’s, JCPenny, and Sears many retailers are recognizing a need to shift strategies. The good news is that the brick and mortar model still maintains many distinct competitive advantages over online stores. In order to keep your brand and business top of mind and relevant with consumers, you’ll need to implement the right set of tactics.
1. Improved Brick and Mortar Store Service
Many retailers are adopting tablets, smartphones, and walkie talkie apps like Zello to empower employees to communicate efficiently. Employees become instant product experts with simple access to product information using devices. By installing a team communication app like Zello, employees are empowered to:
- Quickly communicate with coworkers and managers.
- Find inventory and check on offerings without leaving the customers side.
- Check on inventory at other locations.
- Order out-of-stock items online for a customer.
- Checkout customers with mobile scanners without needing to leave their side.
Improved in-store service though technology boosts professionalism and improves the customer shopping experience. Online shops have an advantage when it comes to convenience, but tools like Zello, tablets, and mobile scanners can go a long way to reducing wait times and inefficiencies. Combined with actually being able to try the product before buying it, retailers could gain an edge here over their online competitors by creating memorable and positive shopping experiences.
2. If You Can't Beat Them, Join Them.
With services like shopify and etsy, opening an online store has never been easier. By adding some online features to your brick-and-mortar business, you can help you customers and reach even more people. One example is using geo targeted e-commerce data to help customers see what’s in-stock and what’s not. Another online shopping feature you can add is the increasingly popular retail app, which gives consumers access to your online store at the touch of a button. Pop-up notifications give shoppers exclusive in-store coupons and remind them of loyalty program points. They also feature barcode scanners that empower shoppers to price check and research a products themselves.
A micro-trip is a shopping visit that takes less than five minutes. Micro-trips are increasingly popular and eliminate lengthy in-store checkout lines. Micro-trips circumvent the aggravations of delivery windows, stolen packages, and missed drop-offs. Some grocery chains offer an online shopping option and have the groceries brought out right to your car. Others offer in-store pickups for online orders. By embracing some online services and micro-trips, brick and mortar businesses are winning customers over and beating out online stores in convenience and shopper satisfaction.
4. Integrating E-commerce
Investing in e-commerce is prudent for any retailer. It reflects consumer trends and broadens a customer base. Brick-and-mortar and click-and-mortar can work together. For example, when physical stores accept returns of online purchases, customers save time. Similarly, eCommerce sites provide exclusive in-store coupon downloads.To ensure your online presence complements your brick-and-mortar store, consider focusing on the following features:
- Customer reviews
- Thorough product descriptions, including dimensions and materials
- The ability to check stock availability in any physical store location
- An “in-store pickup” option when items in the shopping cart are in stock nearby
- In-store coupons that can be printed or texted to customers’ mobile phones
- Easy access to customer service phone numbers and email addresses
- Lists of all physical locations with accurate hours
- Live customer service chat options
In this age of online retail, brick-and-mortar stores need to stay relevant. Updating online presence, self-checkout kiosks, and mobile communication devices for employees empowers physical stores to stay modern and fulfill customer needs. There will always be demand for brick-and-mortar retailers that embrace new
5. Tapping into Social Media
Another advantage brick and mortar stores have over their online competitors is, well, the fact that they exist in actual brick and mortar. There are some advantages to not being a distant and unknown warehouse. The biggest being that you’ll actually get to interact with customers in real life. This gives you opportunities to build relationships in real life that you can then bring onto social media.