New-age digital e-stores and old-school brick and mortar stores have bashed heads over the years. During the early stages of e-commerce’s evolution, offline merchants were left in the lurch. They were unable to compete with the ease and cost efficiency of online shopping. It would have been improbable, even a few years ago, to envision a juxtaposition of the two to try and achieve a common goal.
Now, in 2015, the lines have been blurred. Retailers and customers are seeing how physical stores can add legitimacy to online shopping brands.
Going online and offline
Online shopping has its clear advantages. Customers have so many more product options. The costs are always competitive. Free shipping. It offers everything that a physical store can, and much more. Having said that, physical stores are still responsible for a clear majority of sales worldwide. Some e-retailers even adopt physical stores just to capture some of that market share.
An omni-satisfaction trend
Omni-channel shopping aspirations of customers have been rising to the front. And such a store can do a lot more than just sell merchandise to every customer walking through the door. It presents powerful opportunities to market the brand itself. Turn visiting customers into brand loyalists. But a happy customer isn’t necessarily one with packaged merchandise tucked under the arm. It is someone who has had a good store experience, be it online or offline. This could mean that the person will be more inclined to later visit the same store online.
Ready for the change
It is no surprise that online businesses are making in-roads in the brick and mortar game too. Based on online interactions, store owners are able to “pre-order” or customize product packages for customers before they show up at the physical store. Sometimes it is even as simple as informing the customer about the availability of particular brands or items.
Sure, there are overheads. Retail rents need to be managed. The hassles of inventory management must be dealt with. Even if it doesn’t mean a quantum leap in profit margins. Or a clean sweep of every product in your inventory. It is a step in the direction that the future of shopping is headed towards. And that’s as important as it comes in the eCommerce world.