or physical store – which channel is better? Increasingly,
retailers are recognizing that
have incredible value. The challenge now is to combine the best of
both worlds to deliver an amazing omni-channel customer experience.
article we want to talk about exactly how to mine the
brick and click, minimize the 'bad bits,' and leave your customers
For years, industry experts have
predicted that Ecommerce would soon eclipse brick-and-mortar
shopping. But, despite a steady rise, online sales still account for
just 7.2% of overall US retail sales.
What is it about shopping in-store
that gives it such an enduring appeal?
Touch and feel
the most obvious advantages of shopping in-store is that it gives
customers the chance to really 'try before they buy.' Studies suggest
that 42% of customers prefer to shop in-store because they want to
see the product in person before they buy it.
– where customers browse products in store then head online to buy
them – has typically been seen as a
recent years, we've seen this trend start to work in reverse. We're
now seeing the rise of 'webrooming' – where people research their
products online, and then come to your store armed with a vast amount
of product knowledge and a real intent to buy. Check out this
Ways Brick-and-Mortar Stores Can Win at Webrooming
afraid to actively encourage showrooming and webrooming – anything
that drives footfall to your store, or traffic to your site,
represents an opportunity for you to grow sales.
question for online retailers, of course, is how you can possibly
emulate the touchy-feely experience of in-store shopping? It's a
challenge, no doubt. Many successful retailers bridge the gap by
investing heavily in product photography and video. Brands like
Zappos give you the power to zoom into product images so close that
you can almost feel them!
will pay an average of 50% more for items they can touch and see.
a wider point, here. There's a certain
in shopping in-store. Building that confidence and winning consumer
trust is a fundamental issue for Ecommerce merchants, particularly
when selling high-value items which represent a big commitment for
way around this is to offer samples.
So, for example, sports nutrition company MyProtein.com, rather than
expecting you to buy huge volumes of product without trying it first,
give you the chance to buy smaller samples at a lower price point.
who research online before buying spend 33% more on average.
When it comes down to it, one of
the biggest advantages of shopping in store is simple; you walk away
with the product, right there and then. No waiting for shipping, no
wishing you'd paid more to get it next-day, no staying home for
This level of convenience is
something all retailers should aspire to. According to Forrester
research, 51% of people who prefer to shop in-person say they do so
because they don't want to wait for their item to arrive.
Clearly, a variety of shipping
options and flexibility help bridge the gap somewhat for online
retailers, and you can minimize the disruption for your customers by
giving them power to rearrange their delivery or leave instructions
even when it's out in the van.
But the real trick for online
merchants is click and collect. This is the absolute epitome of
merging the best of brick and click – with
of online shoppers
expected to use it by 2017.
click and collect, customers are able to carry out all their research
online, reserve the product to avoid a wasted trip and then head to
your store to pick it up at a prearranged date – preferably on the
same day. It's a huge win, saving them time and money. Check out
tips for improving the click and collect customer experience
retailers: offer a physical pickup facility or, at the very least,
plenty of convenient shipping options.
retailers: use your online presence to clearly demonstrate inventory
and, ideally, offer customers the chance to reserve online.
reason many people prefer to shop in-store is that, should there be a
problem with the product, it's generally much less complicated to
return in person. I mean, you just take the product back, show your
receipt and get your refund or store credit.
about returning to an online retailer, on the other hand, and you're
probably immediately thinking about lots of cardboard and parcel
tape, returns forms to be completed and lengthy email exchanges –
not to mention lost money on shipping.
course, there are ways to make this easier. You should clearly
display your returns policy, and make the process as simple and clear
for your customers as it can possibly be. Accept that some returns
are inevitable and embrace this as an opportunity to keep their
business in the future! Check out
Tips for Better Eco
Returns and Exchanges
The best of click...
can offline retailers learn from the digital world of shopping?
Reviews and social proof
admitting they trust online reviews as much as they would a personal
recommendation, there's little doubt that this is an insanely
powerful tool for merchants.
do you utilise this tool offline?
are a few options. Of course, you could physically display
testimonials and product reviews around your store. Alternatively,
you could arm your sales team with tablets which link to your online
huge win for online shoppers is the absolute wealth of product
information they can access online. Seriously, take a look at some of
the below product pages. This is an awesome amount of information to
get about your products before you purchase.
offline retailers, it's important to furnish your shoppers with all
the information they need. Why not try printed hand-outs for certain
items? Hook them up with a tablet that contains product information?
retailers are moving away from the idea that online and offline are
entirely separate entities. A lot of big retailers such as Best Buy
and Target are now price matching online retailers, not just offline.
Online retailers generally have a huge advantage over in-store when
it comes to pricing – but, as an in-store retailer, you need to try
and be as competitive as possible and really push some of your
advantages which we've touched on in this article.
gap between online and offline retail has never been as narrow, and
that's only likely to shrink further as we move forward. Take a
cerebral approach and look at the strengths and weaknesses of both
options; there are lessons from online retailers to learn from
offline, and vice versa.
your customers as close to the product as possible. Let them touch,
feel and sample it. And, if you can't, take a leaf out of the online
retailers book and empower them with reviews and extensive product
it quick and easy for them to get hold of the products. Offer plenty
of shipping options. Make the returns process clear and simple. Merge
the channels where you can – ask for online reviews from physical
customers, and ask your online customers to come see you in store.
is the age of omni-channel and success goes to those who merge brick
and click. Good luck!