Brick and mortar stores are facing a challenge as more and more consumers expect to find products online
Since the early days of the Internet, pre-dot.com crash, web sites for online shopping have been available. Early Internet users were reluctant to type in their credit card information, but over the last few years online shopping is really taking off. Not only is this format of shopping becoming common but it is kind of expected. Retailers that don’t have at least an online presence are at risk. Retail is transforming and store owners need to adapt.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday season in the US in November 2016, more people shopped online than in retail stores. According to CNBC, the National Retail Federation in the US reports that more than 108 million purchased electronically, while only 99.1 million bought in stores. In 2015, approximately 103 million shopped online while 102 million bought in-stores. Link.
Having an online presence – a web site, not just a simple Facebook page, is becoming vital to small store owners if they want to compete with online giants like Amazon or now Walmart. According to MineWise 81% of shoppers do research online before making a purchase decision. Link. The digital natives will first grab their phone if they want something. And if it is not there – it doesn’t exist anyways. So we believe that traditional retailers should add an online shopping options to stay competitive.
Retailers that serve a local market need not be at risk. They should adopt an offline/online strategy and view their store as an online store with a physical showroom. Customers will find them online and this has been shown to drive customers to their local store. However, retailers that emphasise aesthetic approach to store design are able to give customers better experience. Customers will come because they like the experience. And that is something that the global Amazons of the this world cannot easily compete with.