Article

Daniel Bakst
Daniel Bakst 23 April 2018

Understanding The Relationship Between Brick-And-Mortar and eCommerce Retail

Organizations that are able to appropriately focus their efforts and investments on both eCommerce and brick-and-mortar channels are positioning themselves to be leaders in the retail space. Customers want a consistent experience across these different platforms, and ideally transitioning between these two areas is seamless and requires as little effort as possible.

The best brands are taking into account the feedback provided by customers to properly establish a healthy relationship between these two channels. 

Creating a Customer Experience that encourages consistent satisfaction within every channel is the ultimate challenge of brands in any industry. This is especially true for those in retail due to the necessity to balance in-store and online resources. The common perception is that all customers prefer online shopping over having to enter brick-and-mortar locations, but in reality, that is not always the case. While there is a connected relationship between these two channels, brands will not find consistent success by investing solely in either direction. For those retail brands that do prioritize improving the experience provided by their brick-and-mortar location, measuring what consumers desire can unlock the formula that gets more people to walk through your doors.

Turning your brick-and-mortar store into an experiential destination is a great step towards omnichannel success, and ultimately creating life-long relationships with customers. In practice, this means creating a comfortable store aesthetic, with consistently engaged employees offering an appropriate level of service. Additionally, in-store product technologies that provide opportunities for self-service can be a great way to provide a diverse value to customers. There may be a convenience advantage to shopping online, a main part of the in-store advantage is consumers’ desire to physically interact with a product before purchasing. In fact, the number one factor contributing towards consumer preference regarding in-store versus online shopping is to, “see feel and experience the product in person,” and almost half of online customers claim the lack of this experience as the primary negative of online shopping.[1] Rather than focusing all marketing and conversion efforts towards digital channels, optimizing your in-store experience can serve as a way to satisfy a broad audience of customers.

There are two combatting factors of convenience that separate in-store and online selling platforms. For the former, the ability to immediately get service questions answered by an employee, purchase a product and take it home can be extremely influential for purchasing decisions. This is especially true for sub-categories like fashion and grocery because consumers like to try something on or confirm freshness before purchasing these kinds of products. For the latter, brands that curate a digital experience that allows customers to complete their entire purchasing journey, from product research to delivery, all from the comfort of their home can be very attractive. However, even as this eCommerce technology becomes more pervasive, there is still only a small fraction of retail brands, 13%, that identify themselves as “digital-first.”[2] While it is true that like brands across different industries are investing more into digital channels than ever before, brick-and-mortar optimization is still the best way to become an industry leader. Ensure that you are creating consistency across these different channels, allowing customers to achieve whichever style of convenience they prefer.

Additionally, a brand’s digital presence can be used as a supplementary tool to achieve in-store success, and vice versa. For example, it is common for customers to conduct online research about a product before going to a store, or even looking up different price points from competitors while they are in your store. Offering self-service as an option within your organizational website can be a great resource for your in-store growth, because it enables customers to achieve best of both worlds. On the other end of the spectrum, customers will often use brick-and-mortar locations as a testing center to get a good feel of a product before going back online to complete the purchase. Rather than focusing more energy on either side, creating an omnichannel platform that combines these channels into one overarching customer journey can be a hugely influential step towards establishing a successful retail brand.

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