Brick & Mortar retailers are benefitting by blending the buying channels
Brick and Mortar (B&M) stores traditionally have been the default when it comes to retail. They continue to gross over $3.9 trillion dollars annually, and are responsible for 94% of all shopping sales. Despite talks of e-commerce taking precedence over brick and mortar stores, the trend continues to sway in the direction of in-person shopping.
According to ALERTTECH, there are four main reasons why B&M’s will always lead retail:
- Trial: Consumers can try on clothes, shoes, other items
- Instant gratification (no need to wait for shipping time)
- Easier returns
- In-store experience (appeals to the senses: smell, see, etc.)
E-commerce continues to be a substantially growing aspect of shopping, having shown exponential growth year after year. And in the future, E-commerce will have a drastic impact on B&Ms, but it’s going to take a lot more to break the strong foundation and habitual nature of in-person retail shopping.
However, B&Ms and e-commerce stores do not necessarily need to be competitors, as they complement each other’s strengths e-commerce provides an ease of use can provide that Brick & Mortar stores lack: avoiding driving, navigating a busy store and having an item delivered right to any doorstep.
Digital Commerce 360, a marketing research website, stated, “Brick and Mortars can use digital advancements from e-commerce to digitize in-store experiences.” While they still dominate purchases, B&Ms can adopt the ease of use inherent in e-commerce sites to become more accessible. Evolving to an online presence can make or break retailers that may have struggled since the sudden popularity of E-commerce.
According to Forbes, a lot of Brick & Mortar stores lack access to “big data,” such as a consumer’s purchase history; this information was a huge component in Amazon catapulting itself to its success. Access to data like this would allow a store to create custom promotions focusing on what the consumer had previously purchased.
Despite the fact that newer generations, such as Millennial and Gen Z shoppers, are outnumbering older generations, Forbes says that Brick & Mortar stores are likely not in danger. According to recent studies, though smartphones are ever prevalent, Forbes found that most consumers continue to shop at in-person.
Digging further into Gen Z shoppers, B&Ms can still thrive due to the changing demographics of this generation. Gen Z shoppers are more willing than other generations to ask for help for locating a product or item, reviews or recommendations, and ask other questions about the store as whole. There’s a rising importance for a well-educated staff to know the ins and outs of the store, so that they keep newer generation happy and gain repeat customers in the process.
E-commerce techniques have the potential to make a difference in the retail industry. Right now, strategies can’t just be lifted from the online market and applied to traditional retail verbatim given the inherent nature of the businesses. But certain strategies – like utilizing big data, marketing on both channels effectively and creating in-store apps for promotions and coupons – can aid B&Ms into becoming more technically advanced for their consumers.
There will likely always be a separation between B&Ms and e-commerce, as consumer will never fully abandon in-store shopping and never give up the ease of online shopping. But harnessing this ease and accessibility in the retail space would allow B&Ms to continue flourishing, making them more relevant and appealing for future generations.
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