Traditional brick-and-mortar retailers have realized that in order to compete in today’s selling markets, they must cast off tradition and embrace the world of elec- tronic selling.
It’s no secret that retail chains are shrinking. We’ve seen
recent closures of several locations, including Macy’s, Sears,
JC Penney, Kmart, and even Walmart. Shopping malls are
losing tenants every day, leaving large vacancies in what
used to be the only way to shop. Many of these retailers that
have reduced their number of physical stores have realized
that in order to survive, they must man two fronts.;After all,
it is retailers’ job to give their customers “the best” shopping
experience — and what constitutes “the best” shopping experience varies by consumer.
As the internet continues to grow, so do the traditional
buying patterns of millions of shoppers. The opportunity to
research products, buy them from the comfort of your own
home, and have them delivered to your door has become a
convenient, risk-free way to shop. Consumers are increasingly choosing the convenience of “always-open” online stores,
where they can find free shipping and free returns. E-commerce retailers have several advantages over brick-and-mortar stores. Online stores are able to offer far more SKUs and
often offer lower pricing because of minimal overhead.
But don’t count brick-and-mortar out. A large percentage
of shoppers still want to walk into their favorite stores to feel,
touch, and try on their purchases. Looking at a screen and
clicking “purchase” doesn’t always fill those needs.
Another reason for in-store shopping is the ability for a
customer to receive the product imme-
diately. Until online retailers can find
a less expensive option for same-day
or next day delivery, brick-and-mortar
will continue draw customers. More-
over, retailers will continue to try to
drive customers into brick-and-mor-
tar locations as studies show that 40
percent of shoppers;spend more than
they had planned to while shopping in
stores, while only 25 percent of shop-
pers do so when shopping online.
Successful retailers have an under-
standing that it is not e-commerce vs.
brick-and-mortar. Digital sales won’t
lead to the death of the brick-and-
mortar store. Rather, these different
avenues of sales should complement
each other and work in conjunction to complete the sale.
Digital gives retailers the opportunity of creating another
type of shopping experience, making it more attractive to
shoppers by offering them additional options on products,
pricing, convenience, and personalization. Many e-com-
merce sites now allow for a customer to complete a purchase
online, but to pick up their order at the brick-and-mortar
store. Today’s consumers are digital, mobile, and physical.
They expect retailers to be available wherever and whenever
they choose to shop.
Customers are also comparing brick-and-mortar prices
with online prices while shopping in a store. Earlier this year,
a;study;by MasterCard found that eight of 10 consumers now
use a smartphone, tablet, or in-store technology while shop-
ping. Some retailers have broadened their shopping policies
to honor online pricing in stores if the customer can show
the price on their mobile device at the time of purchase.
Brick-and-mortar retailers are begrudgingly learning
and accepting the fact that their businesses are not static.
They are no longer competing against a handful of other
brick-and-mortar retailers. There is now competition from
hundreds of online retailers, including discount e-commerce
sites such as Groupon, Overstock, Woot, Living Social, Zu-
lily, Gilt, and others. While brick-and-mortar retailers might
carry one or two selections of a certain product, Amazon may
carry hundreds of the same type of product — with each at a
lower price. Moreover, because digital is so fluid, offers and
prices can change daily or hourly and are only a click away.
In contrast, for a major retail chain to alter a price or an in-
store policy can take days — or possibly weeks.
During Christmas, traditional brick-and-mortar retailers
now have hundreds or thousands of websites selling toys
without the hassle of in-store holiday shopping. To survive,
retailers like Target, Toys R Us, and others have had to offer
online options in order to keep their own customers.
Traditional chains like Costco, Target, Walmart, Kohl’s,
Macy’s, Best Buy, Steinmart, JC Penney, and others have
joined the digital world. Cyber Monday has now become a
significant sales and revenue day for these retailers. They no
longer have to sit back and watch millions of dollars of sales
being siphoned off by third party e-commerce sites.
The world of retail has changed, and will continue to do
so. Those traditional brick-and-mortar retailers who recog-
nize this and have become multi-dimensional to meet the
needs of their customers will continue to grow and thrive,
while those that that ignore the emergent world of e-com-
merce will struggle to stay in business. ;
By Andrea Stuhley