It would seem rumours of the death of the bricks-and-mortar store were greatly exaggerated. If you want evidence, look no further than the Lowy family’s $32.7 billion sale of their stake in Westfield shopping centres – no business based on a waning business model gets snapped up for that many zeroes!
However, while a physical storefront is not about to go the way of the dodo, nor has the e-commerce market been a flash in the pan.
Rather, the modern consumer simply wants choice – the ability to go and try a product to ensure it fits or works, as well as the ease of simply ordering something online.
In short, the smart retailer realises you don’t give people one or the other, you offer both and allow your customers to choose.
Even Amazon is doing it
If you need any more evidence that a ‘bit of both’ approach is the way to go, look no further than the fact Amazon – the biggest e-commerce business of them all – now has a physical extension. And ironically, it’s a chain of bookstores.
While they’re only operating in the US thus far, Amazon Books is leading the omnichannel charge, with consistent pricing – including cheaper prices for Prime customers – and a layout that makes the physical store familiar to anyone who’s ever bought a book online from Jeff Bezos.
The key is consistency: whether a customer first visits a business online or in the flesh, they should feel familiar with it the next time they pop in or click on.
If it’s not offline, it’s not online
Imagine your frustration if you tried on a pair of shoes, decided they were a great fit, then walked up to the checkout, only to be told there were none of those particular kicks in stock.
You’ve got them in your shopping cart, yet they don’t exist?
This is the exact frustration an online shopper is likely to feel if you don’t link your online and offline stocktake to update in real time. Having someone go through all the steps of making a purchase, only to be turned away at the final step – the bit where they give you money – is a sure-fire way to lose a customer.
This time, it’s personal
Early e-commerce sceptics pointed to the lack of human interaction as one of the platform’s major drawbacks, as dealing with a computer is so impersonal.
There’s certainly an element of truth in that, so the key is to ensure you provide a personal touch whether a customer is in-store or online.
Smiling, helpful staff are obviously paramount in a real-life setting, but equally a return customer shouldn’t feel like a stranger when they use your website. Did they finish a purchase last time? Do you have their purchase history? Can recommendations be made based on previous behaviour?
There are an abundance of tools available to ensure your customers receive a highly personalised experience every time they enter your store – whether by walking through the front door or tapping out a URL.
Find out how Brother’s Commercial Development team can help your retail business, Contact us for a demonstration or visit our corporate solutions website to check out Brother Solutions for your industry.