Clicks & Bricks: Translating Ecommerce into an IN-Store Experience

With people glued to their devices 24/7, mobile shopping has been proclaimed as the holy grail of ecommerce. Brands are flocking to online sales channels, diluting the market and driving digital platforms such as Instagram and Google to increase their advertising costs without consequence. Ecommerce may be all the rage – but will it last?

The oversaturation of online channels means it’s harder than ever to cut through the noise and reach online shoppers. Millions of brands are battling it out every day for consumer attention in the sea of digital content.

Despite COVID19 driving the unparalleled embrace of online shopping, staring at a screen just doesn’t compete with the experience of entering a physical store. The biggest downfalls are not being able to see, touch or interact with products and the overall brand to build customer brand loyalty.

There’s constant debate on retail vs ecommerce and the benefits of each, but businesses that take advantage of both will see the most long-term success.

Customers still desire in-store experiences

There’s no doubt the popularity of online shopping is growing as an alternative to shopping in physical stores, but adoption isn’t and may never be 100%. Since the pandemic and ongoing lockdowns, many consumers have a new appreciation of the physical shopping experience and being able to try products in-store before they buy. It remains an enjoyable leisure activity for many customers who want to look at, touch and feel the products, making the physical store experience essential.

In Australia, a recent study found 73% of respondents preferred to shop in-store, which is higher than the global average of 59%. Even if they shopped with a particular retailer online, 67% believe physical stores are still an important touchpoint. Customers were also more loyal to brands that have both physical and ecommerce store options.

Many modern customers begin their shopping journey online, comparing products and options from several retailers with just a few clicks. When making a final decision they often want to test, touch, see and/or smell the product. 73% of customers use multiple channels during their shopping journey, with shoppers in brick-and-mortar stores more likely to purchase a product if they can touch it. This isn’t possible when shopping online and is a huge advantage brick-and-mortar retailers have over their ecommerce-only competitors. Customers are also more likely to spend more money in-store when they are able to speak to and interact with an actual customer service employee.

LSKD Chadstone Store Grand Opening

The physical can’t be replaced

How do you feel as you walk into your favourite store? Why do you continue to return to this particular store? Those feelings and experiences are what build brand loyalty and drive shoppers back. These physical experiences are not something easily replicated online.

The in-store experience isn’t just about making sales within your four walls. It’s about capturing your customer’s imagination with a memorable atmosphere. Creating an exciting and functional space where customers can engage and connect with your brand and touch, feel and smell your products. It’s building an experience that they can’t find anywhere else.

Along with the opportunity to interact with products, a brick-and-mortar or pop up store allows customers to interact with your customer service staff face-to-face in real-time. It’s a familiar landscape where customers feel secure and confident in their purchase decision, without having to pay extra for delivery, experience delivery delays, or the risks of fraud or credit card theft. It’s also no secret that in-store browsing often leads to impulse purchases thanks to the ‘treat yourself’ mentality.

How do you translate the online ecommerce experience to an in-store experience?

A successful store communicates what your brand is about and creates a physical embodiment for your customers. When it comes to the in-store experience, 43% of customers are likely to spend more money with a brand that offers a meaningful in-store experience. Customers are also identifying the environment as a key element of meaningful shopping experiences.

Along with product availability, the store decor, emotional connection and overall experience are what drive online shoppers to the brick-and-mortar space and have them return again and again. For this reason, all of the store materials and finishes, design elements, technology, lighting, fixtures and merchandising are critical.

Consistency, consistency, consistency! Regardless of where or how you sell products, you need to be speaking to your customers with one voice, whether in-store, on your website, through email marketing, on social media or through traditional advertising. Customers expect the same shopping experience amongst each channel they interact with your brand through. This means consistent branding, messaging and customer service standards.

People respond to human emotion and genuine connection. We respond better to a brand we feel a connection with and will choose that brand rather than paying less to a competitor that may offer the same product or service at a lower price. For retailers, stores should no longer be considered a place to simply purchase goods. They should be designed and created around unique experiences and environments that form connections between brand and customer.

Predictions of the death of brick-and-mortar stores have not come to pass. Retail is shifting around our feet but physical stores aren’t going anywhere. There is constant debate on retail vs ecommerce and the benefits, but going ecommerce only or vice versa means falling behind. Businesses taking advantage of both channels are the ones who have or will see long-term success and brand loyalty. We believe brands should be making the most of both worlds and we’ll begin to see more and more ecommerce startups lean into physical retail. There’s an option for every customer, regardless of where or how they prefer to shop. The question shouldn’t be ecommerce vs physical retail, but rather how can we blend and translate brand, ecommerce and brick and mortar retail. It’s about pairing the perks of visiting a retail store with the convenience of online shopping and creating the best omnichannel experience for your customers – driving significant long-term success and customer loyalty for your brand.

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