Do have any idea how many online stores are out there on the web? Whether the e-commerce market is expanding, and how fast? We live in a world of advanced technology; a digital world where anything we want to buy can be found online. Starting a business (or running an existing business for that matter) can’t be done successfully without some basic market sizing, and thriving in the retail business is no longer a matter of battling local area competitors. The retail economy has been greatly impacted the buying experience.
Many retailers today are under a lot of pressure, and even though local offline stores still exist, they won’t be able to stay afloat if they don’t adapt. However, just because brick & mortar stores are decreasing in popularity, it doesn’t necessarily mean local businesses will go extinct. Retailers who still abide by conventional selling methods should keep doing what they do best. But they need to upgrade and make technology part of their business model. They need to hone their strategies and “buy” a seat online. But then again, as soon as you get online you need to brace yourself as you will meet with brands like Walmart, Amazon, and Apple – the big fish – which means that only an innovative, tech-based marketing strategy can make you – the new arrival – stand out and have an influence.
Online vs. offline shopping
The perks of owning an online store are numerous, and many people today would rather “click a link” and “add to cart” rather than walk into a brick and mortar store to buy things. However, a seamless shopping experience can be a combination of both e-commerce and brick & mortar. Even though many online stores market top-quality products, some customers will still want the chance to interact with that product, try it on, touch it, smell it, or feel it. Connecting to a product emotionally increases a company’s likelihood to sell more.
Very few people buy goods online from an impulse. In fact, today’s avid online shopper is not really a shopper but a “digital collector”. Many of us like to “window shop” on the web as well. And we like it so much because in brick and mortar stores the experience is not that “personal”. We love to check out websites, adding lots of things to the cart, assess the competition with a click of a button, only to start questioning the quality of the products the closer we get to checkout. Rather than choose a method payment and finalise an order, we often hit the “x” button and leave. Shopping cart abandonment is extremely common these days. Many buyers are drawn by discounts, but when they get to the checkout (after buying many, many products), they get discouraged by the total price and they choose to abandon their carts.
Ready to jump in the “Shark Tank”?
Today’s e-commerce market is similar to a massive tank filled with hungry sharks. If you don’t have what it takes to compete with them, they’ll eat you alive. But even though e-commerce giants like Zappos and Amazon pose many challenges for brick and mortar retailers, this doesn’t mean offline stores can’t survive. With the right products, marketing strategies and people, competing with e-commerce stores is doable.
• Jump in the shark tank prepared – don’t run away from technology, embrace it!
• Make your product and brand stand out on social media
• Go online and use SEO to market your business to make yourself known to the masses
• Do things differently – make yourself and your business visible, offline and online. Use whatever conventional marketing strategies you want to ensure people in the community know who you are, but don’t forget to be present online as an online presence can help customers find your store a lot easier when searching for a local store selling whatever you sell.
• Responsive website design – responsive design allows customers make purchases from smartphones and iPads too. Consider smart steps for website redesign if you haven’t done it yet, and make your online store easy to access from a smart device.
The link between e-commerce and brick and mortar stores
The e-commerce market has developed a lot because of social media. Buying and selling online is now more widespread than ever. However, in spite of all the benefits, e-commerce is far from being perfect. Companies need to find a way to offer customers a seamless shopping experience; meaning have a sound online marketing campaign, but at the same time be present offline to allow people to test the products and permit them to relate to them on a more personal level. The use of digital channels like apps, email and social media, generate brand awareness. Customers are enticed by promotions and coupons that can be redeemed in store. This helps craft a well-rounded view of how e-marketing techniques drive offline revenue. In-store technology, for example, can be extremely useful. It allows easy access to information, thus boosting transactions. Using technology in stores continuously offers a streamlined customer experience. Simple strategies such as providing free Wi-Fi to customers can persuade them to spend more time inside your brick and mortar store.
Connecting bricks and clicks to boost customer engagement
Clever top-tier retailers have found a way to make the transition from online to offline buying incredibly smooth. The strategy bases on offering their customer base an omnichannel, seamless shopping experience. The giant Apple, for example, blends the ease of online e-payments with the heartening convenience of in-store shopping. What did they do? They eliminated in-store cash registers. Salespeople only handle sales transactions on smart devices before sending customer receipts on email. iPhone users can also complete a sale on their own, and pay for items bought in-store via an App Store app – the EasyPay app – without any assistance from a sales rep.
Customers can also purchase items online and then head to the nearest Apple store in their area to pick them up. Apple was smart enough to understand that shoppers have changing demands and expectations. As a consequence, they’ve adopted a checkout experience that is different from other retailers. Their strategy blends e-commerce with brick and mortar, thus pleasing a larger customer base.
Walmart is following Apple’s footsteps. The retailer is currently testing an app called “Scan & Go”, which permits customers to scan items when shopping. Customers already have the option to make online purchases and then come pick them up from the store; or buy online and if the quality doesn’t live up to their expectations, they can bring the product to a Walmart store to have it replaced, or ask for a refund.
Can brick and mortar stores provide a seamless shopping experience?
Yes, they can, but not without the help of e-commerce. Brick and mortar businesses need mobile apps. They need social media; they must fully grasp the benefits of mobile apps, and they need to acknowledge that having an online presence is just as important as the quality of their products. The offline and online world of retail should provide a unified, cohesive experience. There are numerous ways your offline and online stores can support each other. Dealing with them separately (or choosing to sacrifice one for the other) will limit your business’s real potential. Rather than miss out on key opportunities, startups must embrace that glueing e-commerce and brick and mortar is the best marketing strategy that they can implement to thrive.
The future of brick and mortar businesses is online! IT Enterprise can convince you that every offline startup BELONGS on the web. Let us make you a business an app, let us build you a website, let us handle your SEO, and your customer base will skyrocket. We make ideas come to life, so If You Can Imagine It – We Can Build It! Whatever idea you might have, whatever concept you want to implement, just give us a call, and we’ll convert into revenue.