Brick-and-mortar retailers, both big and small?should ?sell online to stay competitive and meet customer expectations.
Ecommerce and physical-retail commerce are merging; businesses that exist in shopping centers and malls are expected to be represented online too. Popular brands such as Topshop, H&M, Charles & Keith and Adidas have joined the bandwagon but many small brick-and-mortar stores do not yet offer e-commerce.
For those struggling to get online, consider that there are at least eight good reasons for small, brick-and-mortar retailers to sell online too, both from the consumer point-of-view and the business owner’s point-of-view.
Your Customers Are Already Online
Most consumers are already shopping and searching for products online. If your store isn?t e-commerce enabled, it is behind your competition. Furthermore, you are missing out on a global market here!
In an?April 2013 study, the consulting firm Accenture found that 88 percent of shoppers have looked online for products before deciding to go into a physical store to make a purchase, making ?webrooming? significantly more popular that ?showrooming.? Webrooming also allows the shoppers more time and opportunity to do their research on their mobile devices, which grants the shopper a sense of ease/security before making that purchase, be it online or at the walk-in store.
Some Items Are Just Easier to Buy/Sell Online
There are some items that are simply a lot easier to buy and sell online. Just look at the e-commerce websites for gifts, stationery, books and fashion, most of these online stores are reporting sales numbers higher than their brick and mortar counterparts.
If an item is something that is consumed, like paper, pens, or other office supplies, it can be a lot easier to order online. It would be silly to take the additional time required to travel to a stationery store, get your supplies for the office’s needs, including reams of paper which is usually very heavy, and end up paying for delivery.
There are many more items that shoppers generally find it easier to purchase online, usually they are heavy and bulky items which requires a good mode of transport home or a paid-for delivery service. Things like books, electronics, furniture, shoes, bags, you name it.
Small brick-and-mortar retailers should look at the products they sell and simply ask if some of those items are ripe for e-commerce.
Online Shopping Is Social
There are some who say that when we shop online, we lose something, some kind of a social experience had only from going to a store, walking the aisles, and touching the things we buy before we buy them. There is a sense in which this is true, but online shopping is social too, and as a social experience online shopping has the potential to reach a much larger audience.
One of the best examples of just how social online shopping can be comes from the varied and many boards on Pinterest. For example, search for ?wedding? on Pinterest and you will find thousands of ideas, crafts, and ? to my point ? products that can and are purchased. Pinterest users are sharing the items they want and the items they dream of in a social way online. If a merchant doesn?t have an online catalog, that merchant is missing out.
Finally, consider the opportunity to provide better customer service.
An online store can be a great extension to a retailer?s customer service offering, adding to the customer service already provided in store or over the phone. An online store can offer a frequently-asked-questions section so that shoppers can find solutions even after regular store hours. Some online retailers are even using live chat to answer customer questions and concerns.
Anytime that you can make it easier for shoppers to get information about anything ? from inventory levels to return policies ? you are helping to improve customer service.