The world of commerce is constantly evolving, especially since the rise of the e-commerce, which has disrupted consumer behavior. The needs of the customers have evolved as well as their purchasing paths. Online and offline stores must therefore quickly adapt to these changes if they want to keep their customers.
Brick and mortar
Since we are in the digital age, the offline stores are suffering a decline in traffic at the expense of online stores.
For consumers, it’s easier to search and compare in e-shops, as well as a more personalized offer that they do not find in the physical shops. They quickly adapted a “ROPO” (Research Online Purchase Offline) purchasing behavior. To adapt to this change of habits and respond to their needs, the brick and mortar must implement various and innovative strategies.
- Integration of the e-shop
To keep consumers in stores, brands are trying to break down the boundaries between their online and offline stores by integrating their offline store into the customer journey. For example, with “click and collect”, the customer has to retrieve his order placed online in the nearest store of the brand. This strategy can be successful since the consumer is already interested in the brand and has already saw the products online.
Stores can also be used as “showrooms” for the consumer. This trend is the opposite of “ROPO”, the consumer tries and tests the products in a store, and buy it online, during a discount for example. Although the turnover of physical shops is decreasing, these shops remain essential for consumers.
- Digitized stores
To be more attractive to customers, the shops must focus on their weaknesses and take the new customer needs into account. How? By integrating the assets of new technologies into their sales strategy. We know that customers want to save time and like to receive personalized offers. New technology can answer these questions. Innovative and modern strategies such as mobile applications, information kiosks, mobile phone payments, geolocation of products or virtual fitting rooms can be the solution. By implementing these devices, you enrich and streamline their purchasing paths through the digital.
For example, the store Casino, opened for the first time in France a phygital (physical and digital) shop. A shop that, thanks to a lot of innovations, supports the customer along the entire purchasing journey. Are you looking for a product? Ask Max, and the screen will display the itinerary to find your product (developed with Google and voice recognition).
While physical stores are doing their best to digitalize and be adapted to customer expectations, the online stores are feeling the need to connect to their shoppers.
Online stores keep gaining sales share on offline stores. However, many online shops do not hesitate to shift to the “offline side”. Why would they do that?
- Ephemeral store
One of the biggest weaknesses of e-shops is the fact that consumers cannot test or try their items before buying them: 37% of consumers feel the need to see or touch an item before buying it. To respond to this need, some online stores opened pop-up stores. A pop-up store is a small ephemeral store that is very easy to set up and remove. It can be used for different purposes: to test a market or in this case, to introduce a new product and get it closer to the customers. Such stores often have the effect of an event which cannot be missed by customers. A good way to communicate, perfect for a branding strategy!
- Physical store
Some of the big players of e-commerce didn’t stop here and started to open shops with new concepts to satisfy their customers’ needs. For example, the Amazon stores that opened this year in the United States. Brick and mortar shops without cash registers. They simply installed sensors between the shelves and on the ceiling to detect the items that the customer buys and the payment is done automatically with the application. The web giant has therefore succeeded to remove one of the biggest negative points of offline shopping. It is seen as a significant evolution in the distribution market.
Zalando has also recently opened a shop in Germany, with a completely different objective: to promote its new « beauty » category of its website. Customers can therefore test the products in this shop and buy them there, or in Zalando’s online shop.
The online world makes life easier for customers. Whether you are the manager of a physical or online store, digitize your brick and mortar or develop your online strategy. You have to become omni-channel, know your customers’ needs and be present where they expect you. Leads International can assist you in the development of your digital strategy and inform you of new international trends! Feel free to contact us for more information.