It seems like daily we hear another retail store is closing its brick and mortar locations. Yes, there are record numbers of brick-and-mortar store closings. You would think that’s because U.S. shoppers prefer to buy online, interestingly that isn’t always true. It really depends on what shoppers are purchasing and at what stage of the buying process they are in.
An eMarketer white paper from April looks at a new report from Market Track. Their survey finds that shoppers actually prefer to make purchases in store rather than through digital channels unless those products are books, toys and games (which are the top digital purchases). For big-ticket items like cars, appliances and jewelry, the majority of 1,200 survey respondents preferred in-store buying options. Good news for retailers, yet we can’t ignore the obvious.
We all know there has been a shift in the way shoppers research, browse and purchase. Many people don’t buy a single item these days without researching it online first or even while in the store itself. Retailers continue to turn their physical stores into an asset to compete with online retailers as today’s shoppers become increasingly mobile-phone dependent. Having a mobile strategy has become so much more important.
For most profitable retailers, their secret sauce has come from being able to integrate their online business with in-store shopping. [See my last post on Under Armour.] Retailers encourage shopping across channels with promotions and coupons to give consumers that “omnichannel” experience.
The goal should be to drive online shoppers to come inside and shop. This includes a strategy of in-store pick-up right after the customer has placed an online order. BRILLIANT, right? I can still get my instant gratification without having to pay for shipping or waiting in long lines! And, if they are gathering data correctly, I should be getting a bounce back coupon driving me into the store to shop for other items, like Crate & Barrel does.
“We introduced buy online and pick up in store, and buy online and ship to store without any shipping fee,” said Crate & Barrel’s COO Michael Relich in an interview from early 2017. “We actually see a lot of transactions start in one channel and finish in another. Brick and mortar is good for us.” Shameless plug: My team at AGS is experienced with creating personalized experiences utilizing variable data coupons and we are here to help you develop your omnichannel approach.
There are other ways you can reward online shoppers and entice them to come into your store. Kohl’s takes care of their online shoppers by giving them close, prime parking spots.
Whatever the strategy, a mobile first focus is most likely the easiest route for retailers wanting to close the gap between eCommerce and brick-and-mortar sales, and get a handle on dwindling foot traffic.