Online shopping has grown an impressive amount over the past ten years. Both month-to-month and year-to-year sales data show a positive upward trend. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean brick and mortar is dying. What it does indicate is that brick and mortar stores need to adopt some of the strategies their ecommerce competitors are using, while simultaneously leveraging the intrinsic advantages they already possess.
According to The Guardian, some ecommerce stores are now moving to bricks and mortar. Traditional stores should track the innovations they implement.
Three Lessons and Takeaways from Ecommerce
When you study ecommerce, it becomes readily apparent that dozens of valuable lessons can be gleaned from the industry. However, if we were to narrow the takeaways down to just a few, the following three would be near the top of the list:
Something ecommerce does very well is personalize the shopping experience for individual customers. They accomplish this by showing complementary products at checkout, suggesting new products customers may like, offering unique features within customer accounts, and presenting convenient search and filter features.
Brick and mortar retailers also need to focus on personalizing the shopping experience. One of your biggest advantages is the human element. Whereas online shoppers are interacting with computer screens, in-store shoppers can interact with your sales associates. Encourage sales associates to speak with every customer, remember names of regular customers, and help customers find what they need.
Integrate Technology into Stores
One of the most pressing issues for brick and mortar is technology – and specifically its place in retail stores. With millennials gaining more and more buying power, there’s a growing need for retailers to create in-store environments that are familiar to them. In other words, there needs to be technology alongside traditional cardboard displays. If traditional retailers can do this, then they stand an excellent chance of competing with ecommerce for years to come.
“This is because there are advantages to brick and mortar retailing that ecommerce can never have,” FFR, a leading provider of retail merchandising solutions, points out. “The key to future retail merchandising success is to harness ecommerce’s convenience by reimagining the in-store shopping experience. Retailers need to incorporate technology into retail shopping that inspires customer loyalty and generates brand value.”
Display Ratings and Reviews
One thing consumers love about ecommerce is the ability to check reviews and ratings for products prior to making a purchase. While they can do the same thing in-store by pulling out their phones, this can be a bit of a hassle. You can increase the convenience factor by actually integrating reviews into your in-store experience.
“Bring the digital together with the physical like Sephora who displays in-store digital signage with ratings and pullout quotes from online discussions about beauty products,” suggests Kristin Muhlner, CEO of newBrandAnalytics. “Similarly, GNC uses pullout customer review quotes verbatim in window displays for vitamin supplements.”
While these quotes and reviews are obviously handpicked, they help blend the elements of online and offline shopping. The digital signage that Sephora uses is especially powerful because it combines both convenience and technology. Little details like these make a huge difference in the overall perception of a brick and mortar brand in the 21st century.
Reclaim Retail Leverage
The simple truth of the matter is that ecommerce isn’t going anywhere but up. In order to defeat ecommerce and reclaim leverage in the marketplace, brick and mortar companies must step up their game and find ways to connect with customers through highly engaging and convenient interactions.