Why Brick-and-Mortar Stores are Still Thriving in a Digital World
It’s true that online shopping is convenient and more accessible than ever, with online channels of shopping continuing to show great signs of growth.
However, it is a misconception that physical brick-and-mortar stores are in danger of disappearing thanks to the growth of ecommerce. The digital and physical experience are both important factors for consumers and getting the dynamic between the two right can result in excellent sales for your business.
Here are four things that you may not have known about brick-and-mortar stores and how they are continuing to thrive:
Most Consumers Still Shop in Physical Stores
It may surprise you to hear that even in this digital age, over 80% of purchases are made in physical store over ecommerce.
This isn’t just in the UK either; according to PwC research, 42% of consumers globally shopped in-store once a week in 2013 and 41%. So although consumers shopping via mobile devices increased in that same period, the percentage of those buying products in physical stores stayed pretty much the same.
There’s a number of reasons for this. Research shows that 22% of UK consumers think mobile sites aren’t easy to use. Plus, consumers still value the physical experience of touching and trying products – a quality check that can’t be achieved online.
Consumers Prefer to Buy Groceries In-store
The same PwC study also looked at the type of products that consumers preferred to buy in physical stores. The results were as follows:
- 70% of consumers prefer to buy groceries in-store
- 59% furniture & homeware
- 56% household appliances
- 52% DIY/home improvements
- 51% clothing & footwear / consumer electronics & computers
The products that consumers preferred to buy online were books, music, movies and DVDs, video games and toys.
With consumers concerned that some products sold online may not be genuine, it makes sense that they’d want to see and touch the product before committing to it and this perhaps reflects the types of products that people prefer to buy in-store.
The Purpose of the Store is Evolving
The brick-and-mortar store is evolving to meet the digital age. As well as the inviting ambience that’s expected from a physical store, 68% of consumers also want the ability to check other stores or online stock quickly and 59% want the ability to see and order an extended range of products.
Also, businesses could consider investing in showrooms that are designed to entice customers into being loyal to their brand – using a comfortable in-store experience, rather than simply pushing product sales.
Offer WiFi in your physical stores could be a way to do this – it can enhance your customers shopping experience, giving them the opportunity to use their smart phones to search for your other branches or other products that are available to them from your range (if you don’t already have the technology to offer this service in another way).
What’s more, the WiFi can also be used to identify the way consumers shop in your store and give an insight into how you can improve on your customer service. Take a look at our full PresenceOrb services for retail stores to find out more about how WiFi can be an asset to both you and your customers.
The Employees Can Make a Huge Difference
Attentive employees with excellent product knowledge have the power to convert consumers who are browsing into actual customers.
With the high expectations of consumers to meet, sales associates who know the products inside and out, who can answer any queries and are well-trained to check stock (online or in other stores) can place your store ahead of competition and encourage more sales.
Sales associates with a familiarity of the products on sale, the store’s systems and the store network is an important factor to customers and can act as a key differentiator for consumers preferring to shop in-store over online.
So, physical stores are still thriving despite the growth of ecommerce and it’s possible for the two of these shopping experiences to work in harmony. There’s still an appetite for in-store shopping, as long as physical stores evolve with the changing consumer expectations. Whether it’s adding free WiFi or training up your sales staff, your brick-and-mortar store can still thrive into 2018 and beyond.