With the recent boom in e-commerce and online retail, the traditional brick and mortar stores were threatened with rumours of extinction. Major online retailers such as Amazon, Lazada and eBay seemed like a permanent evolution of the retail landscape.
Over the past years, it has become clear, however, that brick and mortar stores would not face such a fate. Harvard Business Review points out that the predicted cataclysm stayed a rumour. Brick and mortar sales accounted for a whopping majority of retail sales at 92.3%. Online retail accounted for only a small percentage of the figures, while the shift from offline to online was exacted at 0.8% between 2015 and 2016.
While the safety-net of traditional brick and mortar stores has held well, e-commerce is still a relatively new concept that seems to be growing popular among today’s youth. Statically, online retail has proved a benign threat to retail stores. While the turning point seems distant, brick and mortar store owners can take measures to further delay the consequences from the ever-growing development of e-commerce.
Breaking The Fourth Wall
In the past, inventory was the key-driver behind customer loyalty and retention. Pushing products and creating hype was the goal of marketeers. But these techniques are dated and no longer a viable tactic in engaging with customers.
Shoppers nowadays are picky. What separates a product from another, when both are equally hyped and marketed? Experience. Shoppers crave an engagement that traverses the barriers of standard marketing. Ever heard the saying, “the best kind of marketing, doesn’t feel like marketing”?The modern shopper craves a personal recognition with the brand. A good marketer understands this and manages to strike a chord with their audience by creating an immersive story behind the brand.
This is not to say that ethics are at stake. Consumerism is negatively impacted by bad business ethics. The story must be truthful and honest. Petronas Malaysia releases feel-good videos that appeal to the layman of Malaysia.
This is a prime example of customer engagement that goes beyond what the company’s product offers. Nike offers sports classes at select locations to further enhance the brand’s image, while giving back to loyal customers. None of these are a compromise of ethics, but they add a layer of dimension to the functions of a brand or product.
Technological Technique [restrict]
The rise of the smartphone has led to a generation that utilizes tech-savvy skills for everyday issues. The alleviation of clocks, calculators and notepads has seeped on into the world of commerce. To survive, brick and mortar retailers should start utilizing this information to negate the risks surrounding their stores.
Digital elements are not a choice, they are a necessity in the modern world. A person can compare brands, prices and quality with the flick of a finger, never having to leave their room. In staying ahead, the smart retailer can take certain measures to boost their physical sales. Providing e-coupons, cloud-based user data, and online marketing campaigns are some of the most critical components that redirect the awareness of the typical net-browser to your brand.
While it challenges the solidarity of purely physical retail, an online presence is a necessity for most brick and mortar store owners. There is a comprehensive advantage that stems from an online presence. Tools such as Facebook and Instagram advertisements ensure that your post can be seen by thousands of people for a measly cost. Facebook Advertisements offer a reach of 12,000 people for the cost of $7. The same sort of reach would require an extravagant investment in the physical environment.
However, this can be taken a step further. Present-day commerce needs to be innovated upon to ensure the survival of brick and mortar retail. While relatively new, the technology of virtual-reality and augmented-reality seems to be the stepping stone that major retailers look towards. The possibilities are obscure but incorporating certain ideals could define the future landscape of retail. Technology should not be a threat, but an opportunity to advance ideals.
The Chit-Chat Element
Rarely do shoppers head out to brick and mortar stores with the sole purpose of purchasing one item and then heading home. There is a social element present in traditional commerce that feeds the human need for interaction.
Staff members and sales team that work on the interactive front of stores should be trained to engage customers in a positive manner. Recalling the need for striking a chord with customers, competent staff members are able to communicate positive images that translates to positive brand engagement. Customer retention is increasingly difficult as brands compete for the fickle attention of the modern-day-shopper, so a personal element adds that touch of charm required for brand memorability.
An article from Marketing magazine reinforces the need for brand engagement with millennials. Fancified imagery and behind-the-scenes-styled stories offer millennials a reason to make a purchase. Therefore, it is important to equip your sales staff with the information and abilities to communicate these aspects of your brad onto customers. Going the extra mile helps strengthen your brick and mortar retail stores.
Where the retail industry is concerned, brick and mortar stores aren’t going anywhere for a long time to come. The key is in staying open and adaptive to the retail landscape. Get the ball rolling today and ensure that your brick-and-mortar stores withstand the test of time!
Understand the needs of the modern-shopper. Engage with them outside the boundaries of regular commerce. Feeling included enhances customer retention.
Read this article if you’re considering opening your own brick and mortar store.