Editor’s note: This post was orginally published in October 2017 and was updated in June 2022 for accuracy and comprehensiveness
This is a guest post by guest contributor Mitch Pazanski.
Shopping at traditional brick-and-mortar stores might be a lot of fun. Shopping online though can be far more convenient. When we’re slumped on the sofa after a long day at work, we can just pop online. After a bit of searching on the internet, we can make a few purchases.
This process is much easier than getting into the car and having to drive through the traffic. Then trying to find a parking spot before we even arrive at the physical store. Also, we need to consider the weather because no one likes to shop when it’s cold and rainy for example.
Let’s take a look at why as a merchant you should shift from physical retail to eCommerce by integrating online tactics into your brick-and-mortar.
What Do The Numbers Say?
Over 70% of shoppers think they’ll find a better deal online. While 60% of American shoppers don’t like shopping in crowded stores.
However, not all is lost. While a lot of businesses have shifted from physical retail to eCommerce, 56% of online stores still have a brick-and-mortar store. The reason for this is that they know people continue to enjoy the brick-and-mortar shopping experience. As Forbes points out, brick and mortar stores don’t need to die – they just need to evolve.
The Importance Of Millennials
Millennials have grown up during an epoch in history that is defined by technology. Consequently, they’re the group of shoppers that are using tech the most. They have grown using brick-and-mortar as well as eCommerce stores. They expect to be able to enjoy the best of both worlds with every shopping experience they have.
Additionally, they use numerous devices to make purchases. Their mobile phones now essentially act as digital wallets. This is why shifting from physical retail to eCommerce and expanding your business with online tactics is essential to keep the millennial shopper happy. Moreover, Generation Z is hot on the heels of the millennials – and they’re growing up fast.
You Can Understand Your Customers Better Online
One of the problems faced by a physical store is that you don’t get a good chance to understand your customers’ needs extremely well. According to a survey carried out by RetailDive, no more than 43% of customers are willing to share information after they’ve made a purchase in a physical store. This means you still don’t know over 50% of your customers. As such, you can’t personalize their shopping experience.
Online stores are a different story. You can use Artificial Intelligence to better understand your customers and their buying habits. Artificial Intelligence presents you with data on consumer habits that you can then analyze and make good use of. This will help you keep up with your competitors who are also trying to understand their customers.
You can understand better your own performance metrics online too. Also, you can see what your customers are searching for once they’re in your online store. Faced with so many buying options and sales channels, the 21st-century shopper is becoming harder and harder to understand.
Enhanced Customer Experience
For your customers to like your brand, you need to treat them well by delivering a personalized experience. As mentioned above, AI can help with that.
AI also enhances the customer experience in ways that help to build your online presence. Therefore, bolstering the reputation of your business as a whole. The more personalized you make the shopping experience, the more likely it is that a customer will be satisfied. This also means retention of that customer.
Chatbots can also help. They are nothing more than a piece of software that chats to your customers. Chatbots are on-hand to listen to the customer and offer them relevant information. This can improve their experience and nudges them toward a crucial sale. The best thing? Chatbots learn the habits of your customers and know them far better than you ever could.
Order Online And Pick Up In-Store
One of the best online tactics you should integrate is in-store pickup. Why? Because people like to research their options online and then acquire them. The main reason for this is because it saves them time. Also, they can easily reserve a product, and even if they don’t buy it, they might head down to your store anyway. Additionally, this is one of the most popular tactics for retail improvement these days for many companies.
If you go down the route of adding in-store pickup, you’ll need to keep on top of your inventory. Both online and offline. There are inventory management apps that help you sync and monitor your products across numerous sales channels. As soon as you sell a product, the apps automatically update your inventory.
To recap, unless you integrate online tactics into your brick-and-mortar store, you’ll miss out on a huge chunk of your targeted audience. That’s why you should partially shift from physical retail to eCommerce. The tactics don’t take long to master, and once learned, they will help you expand your business.
Mitch Pazanski is head of the art department at MightySkins, a company that leads the internet in custom-designed skins for your devices. He helps design the DJI Mavic skins offered by the company.