Brick-and-mortar retailers should imitate to innovate

For decades now, retail entities from store-based brands to malls to department stores have been reeling in the wake of e-commerce behemoths like Amazon arriving on the scene.

Even though the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest report shows that retail sales continue to dwarf e-commerce sales by upwards of 90 percent, that sizeable, growing slice of the brick-and-mortar pie eaten by e-commerce has been enough to force many retailers to review their way of doing business and pivot significantly. Others, it’s forced into nonexistence.

Changing customer habits means the need to change business models

It’s no big revelation that customer habits have changed along with the rise of mobile shopping and e-commerce, and many traditional retailers who have beefed up their online sales presence to stay relevant, like Staples, have found great success.

But that’s only one way brick-and-mortar retailers are changing their approach to appeal to a new generation of shopper used to a fluid and seamless transaction done from the comfort of their living room.

Brick-and-mortar stores have more than one advantage they can capitalize on. We’ve talked here about stores emphasizing the experience of shopping, or the lifestyle associated with shopping in a physical store compared to what online marketplaces can offer.

A recent study conducted by Forbes Insights and Synchrony Financial found almost half of retailers surveyed said customers may research products online, but ultimately make big purchases in stores.

Retailers should capitalize on their inherent advantages

So retailers aren’t going into this battle with one arm tied behind their backs. They simply need to fixate on what e-commerce does better. Conveying information, for example, and seamlessness of experience between web and in-store shopping. A post on Retail Customer Experience details some ways retailers can mimic or even improve on the e-commerce experience to provide customers with what they want and expect.

For example, merchandise displays made to look like what they might see online, branded in such a way that is easy for customers to identify as they continue to do research online, even while standing in the store.

Online shopping presents product information in a way meant to be found, and read, quickly. That same goal should be employed in-store, where displays should efficiently provide customers with essential information on size, features, color, and so on.

Stores should also directly incorporate mobile shopping into their retail experience, like with a slew of internet-connected tablets ready to order items that may be sold out in the store. This omnichannel experience blends the best of the in-store experience with the ease of shopping online. Of course, doing that right requires a well-designed mobile app or a very mobile-friendly website, which of course you already have, right?

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