The growth of electronic commerce cannot be denied. According to statistics from BigCommerce, e-commerce sales are expected to breach the $740 billion mark by 2023 in the United States alone. In addition, e-commerce has accounted for close to 11% of all retail sales in the US. E-commerce has allowed customers to shop from the convenience of their own homes.They can simply select the product they want to buy, pay online, and wait for their order to be delivered to them.
With the popularity of e-commerce, one wonders if owning a brick and mortar store still makes sense in the era of online shopping. With the convenience of e-commerce, why would customers still buy from a physical store. In reality, there are still some advantages of buying from a brick and mortar location. Online stores like Amazon acknowledge this and they are also starting to invest in setting up physical locations as well. Many online retailers understand that they can increase their online sales by having a brick and mortar store as well. One cannot deny the benefits of owning a brick and mortar store. In this article, we shall cover the following:
- Why Does Your Online Business Still Need A Physical Store?
- How Can Your E-Commerce Store Bolster Brick and Mortar Sales?
- Tips For Boosting Foot Traffic To Your Physical Store
Why Does Your Online Business Need A Physical Store?
Maybe your e-commerce store is doing well. You have thousands of orders to fulfill. Perhaps you are one of those asking: “Do I still need a brick and mortar store?” Well, the answer is a resounding ‘Yes’. While it gives your business some online presence, there are simply some perks of physical stores that cannot be matched by online retailers.
Having a physical location is a sign of business success. If you are able to pay for your rent, employee’s wages, labor, renovation, and other fees, it means that your business is thriving. 85% of sales still happen in physical stores. Therefore, synergy between your online and offline store is important. If you are still having second thoughts whether or not to create a brick and mortar store, here are some reasons you should:
1. It addresses concerns about credibility
Let’s face it. Some customers may still not be comfortable with making large purchases from a store they have never seen before.They would want to buy from a credible store. This doesn’t mean that online stores do not have credibility. It’s just that customers still have some trepidation about buying online.
Owning a physical store can help alleviate concerns about credibility. Keep in mind your customers will be coming from different channels so having an actual store where your potential customers can go can help boost the credibility of your online store.
2. People like using their senses before purchasing
Another reason brick and mortar stores make sense is because they cater to the human senses. Customers like to touch, smell, or feel items to help them make a purchase decision. They may check items in your online shop to research and narrow down their choices but when it comes down to purchasing the item, they would want to inspect the product first to make sure that they are making the right purchase.
According to a recent TimeTrade report, 87% of customers want to have an actual experience with a product before “taking the plunge.” They want to verify quality, test the product, and get a feel of the material. Looks can be deceiving in an online store so it is understandable that they want to see the goods themselves to make sure it is the right size and that the product is working perfectly.
Companies like J.C. Penney, Nordstrom, and Macy’s are leveraging their brick and mortar store by allowing customers to buy online and pick up their order in the store. This can lead to instant gratification as customers can get the item they ordered right away.
Customers wouldn’t mind traveling to a physical store because they want to get the best value for their money. If you don’t have a physical store, you could possibly kiss the potential customer goodbye.
3. Personalized shopping experience
Nothing can match the personalized in-store experience offered by physical stores. Online shopping does offer convenience but the engagement and experience of being able to talk to sales personnel trying to clear doubts and concerns about a product is something that customers always crave. In online stores, you can browse for items like apparel and gadgets but that’s just about it.
In contrast, your physical store allows the customer to try out shoes or apparel or test the gadget. It will allow them to take their time when purchasing a product. After all, shopping isn’t about buying an item quickly. When customers browse online, they may have some questions in their mind. When they do in-store shopping, all their questions can be answered. This will help them make an informed decision whether to buy the item or not.
4. Excellent customer service
One of the benefits of owning a brick and mortar store is that the concerns of your customers can be immediately addressed which is something that e-commerce lacks. With an online retailer, customers will have to wait a few days before they get an answer. On the other hand, you have staff available at your store to provide immediate assistance. Your customers can get a knowledgeable second opinion from your customer service team. In an online store, they wouldn’t know whether the skirt they bought matches their blouse.
Studies show that getting personalized treatment elevates an experience and makes customers feel special. By delivering consistent service, customers will save their time and boost their shopping experience. You simply can’t get personalized experience online.
5. Easily showcase your brand culture
Although customers can still be loyal online, it is much better to immerse in that culture in a physical store. Your customers will see how distinct you are from the others from the atmosphere that emanates from your store. They should immediately see the difference when they see or smell something similar.
6. Customers can take their items home immediately
This is another huge advantage of brick and mortar over online stores. The former allows customers to immediately get hold of the item and take it home while with the latter, you need to wait for a few days or even weeks before customers can receive their order. With e-commerce, you have to worry about waiting times, handling fees, or damaged and lost packages. In contrast, customers in a physical store don’t have to worry about these things and get immediate satisfaction.
A recent survey by Retail Dive revealed that 49% of customers prefer brick-and-mortar stores because they are able to take home their purchases immediately. Once they have swiped their credit card, they can instantly use the purchased product. A physical store is perfect for the impulse buyer or last minute shopper.
How Your E-Commerce Store Can Bolster Brick and Mortar Sales?
Now that you know the benefits of owning a brick and mortar store, it is important that it is complemented by your e-commerce website. More than 4 billion people representing 56% of the world’s population are online and 85% of them spend 7 hours each day online. From that number, 2 billion are digital buyers.
If you own just a brick and mortar store, it can be easy for you to lose heart and assume that your business is dead. While e-commerce is on the rise, in-store sales are still strong. In fact, 75% of customers still prefer to shop in-store. In another survey, in-store spending is greater than online purchases. In reality, your e-commerce business can provide your physical store with a huge shot in the arm. Here’s how your online store can boost your brick-and-mortar location.
1. Aim for a unified customer experience
Today, businesses face a new breed of customers. Nowadays, buyers take the “research online, purchase offline” approach. Before they buy a product, they search for it online and look for customer reviews. An offline and online presence can provide customers with the information they need. Utilizing an omnichannel strategy will allow you to attract customers from all fronts whether in-store, on your website, social media, or traditional advertising.
With a unified customer experience, you can speak to them with one voice and consistent branding and messaging. It will also ensure that your marketing is aligned with your branding.
2. Think mobile first
A recent study revealed that nearly 66% of shoppers check their smartphones for product knowledge and information. In addition, they also use their smartphones to comparison shop and read product reviews. They use their mobile devices to check out on businesses so you need to make sure that they can find your store.
With this in mind, you can leverage smartphone technology by sending customers messages and notifications about upcoming product launches or deals in your store. More importantly, this ensures that your website is mobile friendly.
3. Support post-purchase engagement/customer retention efforts
According to a recent survey, there is a 27% chance that your customer will buy again after their first purchase. This probability increases to 54% on the second and third purchases.
Another study by Adobe Digital Index confirms that repeat customers are 9 times more likely to purchase compared to a new customer.
It is important to nurture your loyal customers and ensure a seamless physical-digital experience. You can encourage customers to purchase again through an effective email marketing campaign. After purchasing from your store, you can encourage customers to order another product and leave a review on your website. For your online shoppers, you can boost customer loyalty with digitally-enhanced in-store experiences.
Tips For Boosting Foot Traffic To Your Physical Store
Now that you know the importance of your physical store to your e-commerce business, you need to find ways to attract customers to buy in-store. Using online strategies can help increase foot traffic. It is wrong to assume that your website is only aimed for boosting e-commerce transactions. It is also vital that your brick and mortar store be found online because that is where your customers will be coming from. Here now are some tips on boosting traffic to your physical store.
Claim your business listing
Your business listing is like your signage at the door of your storefront. If you are not listed, how will customers find your business? Make sure that the details listed are correct. Incorrect information is tantamount to hanging the wrong signage on your door. Check how your business is showing up in Google Places for Business. Check the following:
- Category. Are you listed in the right category? You may also want to choose a secondary category so you can connect with niche customers.
- Description. Is your business name, address, operating hours, telephone number, and website address accurate? Ensuring accuracy of the details can make a huge difference in your chances of being seen.
- Photos. Adding images on your listing can increase website clicks by 2.5 times. Insert photos of the interior and exterior of your store as well as photos of your employees and the product.
- Reviews. Responding to reviews is a great way of attracting customers to your physical store. When there is a negative review and you address it right away, it is a good sign to potential customers as they will have the notion that you care about them. This will help increase the star ratings that will appear on your listing.
Make your customers walking billboards
The kind of customer service you deliver can make a difference in how they will feel about your business. Minor details like gift wrapping or small tokens can help take your customer experience to the next level. When customers are satisfied with your service, chances are they will promote your store to their friends and family.
Become a destination
Whether you are located in the central business district or in the corner of the road, working with other businesses can help increase awareness of your location and what it has to offer. You can collaborate with them and work on a meaningful project. This will help people become aware of the different brick and mortar stores in the area.
Never underestimate the power of in-store discounts
Some businesses are reluctant to offer discounts because they think that it would diminish their brand. However, you can always shift away from that perspective and reward your loyal customers. You can always come up with enticing promotions to encourage your loyal patrons to keep shopping in-store. Aside from rewards or discounts, you can also provide them with personalized offerings that caters to their needs.
Owning a brick and mortar store can be beneficial to your e-commerce business. Knowing these benefits will help you come up with the best strategy to attract potential customers to your physical store.
airisX ecommerce provides your business with individual and complete solutions for e-commerce sellers. Our company was born out of the desire to help online retailers grow their business and reduce costs. Book an appointment with us and get customized solutions for your business needs.