Business tips

Are brick-and-mortar stores dying, or just evolving?

By Jereme Sanborn on
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Failing shopping malls and vacant storefronts: These harbingers appear to be predicting impending doom for brick-and-mortar retail. Add to that the surge in popularity of online sellers such as Amazon, and the indications seem clear – or are they? Are physical stores really going the way of the dinosaur and the 8-track tape?

Advantages of in-store shopping.

As physical creatures, we humans enjoy engaging our senses in the shopping process. Going to a retail location enables us to view, touch, taste, or try on various goods. Although videos, virtual modeling, and audio samples can help to bridge the gap, they are merely pale imitations of the in-person experience.

Upsides of ecommerce.

While all of that is true, no one can argue against the benefits of the internet in terms of streamlining the shopping experience. Consumers can browse options, research products, and find bargains on their own schedules and from anywhere in the world. After choosing their selections, they can simply order and wait for their items to arrive at their doorstep, often with the cost of shipping included.

The best of both worlds.

What will be the buying method of the future? Will customers elect to make purchases using their smartphones or tablets, or will they opt to shop in-store? The good news is that the answer may well be a resounding “yes” to both.

If brick-and-mortar retail stores are to thrive, they must change with the times. That means reconfiguring themselves to complement, not compete with, their online partners. Here are just a few ways you can achieve this goal:

  • Harness the power of social media. While sites such as Instagram will direct customers to a store’s website, they can also become powerful advertising vehicles for a physical retail location. Successful businesses will incentivize social media enthusiasts with coupons and other promotions to visit the brick-and-mortar site for live demos and special deals.
  • Integrate your website and app with your physical store. Customers love being able to find out about a promotion or earn rewards online, or via your app and then use their promotions or loyalty points for in-person purchases. By the same token, retailers can add digital touches such as video demos and promotional codes that can be scanned into the app and redeemed later.
  • Use your smart countertop POS to analyze past purchases, and send out targeted emails to incentivize future buys. Building relationships with customers is much more effective when you keep track of their interests and recognize their uniqueness by sending customized offers based on these traits.

Is in-person retail dead? Hardly. Instead, it is undergoing a sea change. If you want to ride the waves of its future success, it’s up to you to evolve with the shifting times.