3 Tips On How Brick-and-Mortar Stores Can Compete With Online Stores
Online shopping has changed the retail environment & the way we shop forever!
The figures don’t lie, according to the U.S. Census Bureau:
The estimate of U.S retail e-commerce sales for the second quarter of 2014 totaled 70 billion $!!
(An increase of 4.8 % from the first quarter of 2014 and 6 % of all retail sales in the U.S).
This article is for you, the proud owner of a brick-and-mortar establishment. Who now needs to adapt to this new reality, in order to stay relevant, increase sales, and most important figure out how to lure potential customers out of their homes and away from their keyboards!
In order to do that, you need to understand people and human behavior: Most of us love the convenience of online shopping. We can shop from the comfort of our home in a matter of seconds, without having to stand in line or get stuck in traffic.
Yet we continue to shop in-store. Why is that? The answer is quite simple: there are certain in-store experiences that we cannot get online.
Yes, shopping online is convenient. Yes, we don’t need to go anywhere and can stay home in our slippers and pajamas.
But who wants that? It’s much more satisfying not to mention fun, to go out! To hang out with friends & family, eat at a nice restaurant, do some window shopping and maybe even… some real shopping. In an actual store! Where we can try products on and buy them on the spot.
Brick-and-mortar retail is still alive and kicking! No doubt about that. So now it’s time to get to work and plan your in-store experience in a way that will put people in the mood to buy.
Here are 3 simple tips to help you compete with online stores:
1. Human Interaction
Abraham Maslow an American psychologist (who was one of the founders of humanistic psychology ) was best known for creating Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. According to Maslow, one of our basic needs as human beings is belonging. Meaning it is important for people to feel loved and accepted by other people, and that need for human interaction is what drives human behavior.
In other words we all enjoy interacting with others. That’s why it’s very important to have knowledgeable and patient sales staff in your store, in order to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere and provide the customers with the guidance they need. This is one of the top advantages, brick-and-mortar stores have over digital online stores: The cold digital world is lacking human interaction.
Brick-and-mortar stores can capitalize on that, in order to attract customers and increase sales.
Think about the following scenario:
A customer walks into your fashion boutique, tries on a blouse, and decides to buy it. She is worried though, she’s not sure whether she should spend so much money on one blouse. Then, at just the right moment a salesperson comes up to her and tells her she looks like she belongs in London or Paris in that blouse. One simple comment can close the deal! And will make that customer come back for more shopping and more compliments!
2. In-Store Atmosphere
One of the main benefits of brick-and-mortar retailers is the ability to create an atmosphere in their stores that will encourage customers to linger…and shop…for things they don’t need. They can tell a story & create a whole new in-store fantasy world, for their customers.
Imagine yourself walking through the beauty department of a busy department store. You instantly feel rejuvenated and carefree surrounded by intoxicating fragrances. Sweet soft music is playing in the background, your mind wonders and you start thinking of your next vacation, or the one you took last year and suddenly you feel you simply must have that perfume! That experience! That ‘must have’ experience is almost impossible to create in an online store.
A unique and well-planned in-store space will make customers come back for more, instead of finding shopping alternatives online, and it can also influence shoppers to make impulse purchases.
3. Instant Gratification
Today’s consumers lead very busy lives and wish to have simplicity in their lives and avoid hassles as much as they can. That’s why they like to have what they want right now; not tomorrow, not next week, now!
Certain aspects of online shopping are not simple at all and make it impossible to get instant gratification: The registration process can be exhausting at times, not to mention the shipping costs and having to wait for your purchase to arrive. When it comes to brick-and-mortar stores, customers have the luxury of taking the product home once they pay for it, and enjoy instant gratification.
Brick-and-mortar retailers that wish to increase sales and attract more customers, can do that by introducing a clear and friendly return policy that makes buying and returning as easy as possible. Easy being the operative word! Until online stores can find a less expensive solution for same-day or 1-day delivery, brick-and-mortar stores will continue to win on this point.
Also in order to make life easier for the customers, it’s important to keep the merchandise accessible by using effective retail store display systems. This will minimize the need for assistance & will leave the customers with less time to ponder over their purchase.
Hope is not lost
As the article’s title implies, brick-and-mortar stores are able to compete with online stores. Retailers who make an effort to understand their customers and are willing to evolve, have the opportunity to thrive! All it takes is putting in some time & effort to optimize their stores for maximum customer satisfaction & pleasure. And for all you skeptics out there, who are already mourning the loss of brick-and-mortar stores, here’s a scoop that will surely restore your faith: According to CNBC.com: Amazon.com, the world’s largest e-commerce company, plans to open its first brick-and-mortar store, on 34th Street in Manhattan across the street from the Empire State Building just in time for this year’s holiday season!