“To remain competitive in an ever-evolving omnichannel world, retailers must invest more of their financial resources and creative energies in their physical stores,” says Yaromir Steiner, founder and CEO of Steiner + Associates.
“By recognising and leveraging the power of their brick-and-mortar spaces and places they will realise that inline and online can truly be symbiotic.”
While various customers value parts of the shopping experience differently, the rise of physical retail stores being opened by previously digital-only stores proves that brick-and-mortar isn’t dead.
Starbucks has realised this and recently shut down its online store. Howard Schultz, the chairman of Starbucks, believes every retailer that is going to win in this new environment must become an experiential destination.
Check your offline pulse
Before directing all your efforts (and money) towards enticing the digital consumer with tech-savvy online features, remember not to neglect your physical stores as they can be an effective competitive weapon.
Research indicates that physical stores boost online purchases,” says HBR. “One European retailer, for instance, reports that it captures nearly 5% of online sales in areas near its physical stores, but only 3% outside those areas. Online and offline experiences can be complementary.”
Regardless of whether your customers are buying from you in-store or offline, a personalised experience is important to them. If you’re only offering this online, perhaps it’s time you considered doing the same for your physical customers.
Consider your locations
The Internet is getting crowded, and where before it was an elite drawcard to attract customers to shopping with your franchise, with more than 800 000 online stores, all vying to attract customers through the gateway of Google, you physical store needs to be your differentiator.
A 2016 survey revealed that 85% of consumers prefer in-store shopping to online, partly because of the personalised and tangible experiences physical retail can deliver. Sure, delivering produce to your customers as chosen by them online is convenient, but have you noticed how some customers inspect their food before choosing the item they’d like to take home?
If your store is a pleasant, and not tedious, place to be, the majority of your customers won’t mind coming in to make their regular grocery run – or even shop online occasionally, if they’re unable to.
Collaboration, not competition
Real collaboration between store and digital operations of retailers is rare due to digital trends that caused the two aspects to compete instead of complement one another.
“Retailers were burned by e-commerce hype during the dot-com bubble,” notes Bain & Company partner and author Darrell Rigby.
“Many created separate online organisations to maximise valuations. The separate organisations targeted different customer segments, inhibited collaboration, and created serious frictions and jealousies.”
While some consumers value the benefits of physical stores – such as personal service, touching products and trying them on, and shopping as an experience – providing perfect integration of the digital and the physical is a better bet to please those who prefer the best of both.