For the last few years, online-only retailers have flourished beyond belief. Brick-and-Mortar has taken a beating indeed, but the tides might have just started to turn. Brick-and-Mortar has been down, but certainly not out. It's not that customers suddenly are bored of shopping online or from their mobiles. It's just that, a huge plethora of technology empowered opportunities is staring down the face of offline retail. Brick-and-Mortar is not dead, and for good reasons.
A few significant things to consider include:
The Amazon Story: According to a Feb-2016 Wall Street Journal Report, Amazon planned to open a total of 400 bookstores. While many would look at it as a potential challenge for existing book stores, they might be missing out on the bigger picture. A major part of Amazon's expenses include fulfillment costs as shipping from a warehouse is not entirely an inexpensive affair. (Statista.com) confirms that their total outbound shipping costs are way higher than the accumulated shipping revenue.
(source – statista.com)
As of 2015, their total shipping revenue stood at US $6,520 million, while the total outbound shipping cost was US $11,359 million.It definitely will help Amazon in cutting down the shipping expenses if products are shipped from the store ( Standard Delivery Type or Click & Collect, etc) instead of always shipping from the warehouse. It's quite expected that Other e-commerce players will follow suit.
Global Omnichannel Retail Index:
Global Retailers are adopting an omni-channel way of marketing owing to the increasing lack of brand loyalty and lack of customer consistency on one particular channel. Brands with both an online and offline presence are doing well and that will be the case for quite some time now. The illustration below provides details about the global leaders on the omnichannel retail index. Marked on a scale of 100, USA, UK and Australia hold the top 3 spots with scores of 50, 49 and 48 respectively.
Here is why Brick-and-Mortar will never fade away:
Mobile Apps enhancing in-store shopping experience
Online Retailers are not the only ones who can make use of mobile apps to drive business. Brick-and-Mortar in recent times have been giving them a taste of their own medicine by resorting to mobile apps. According to a study by Deloitte Digital, 84% of store visitors use their devices either before or during their trip to the shopping store. 22% of people are spending more as a result of a digital presence from the retailer's perspective. These statistics should more than encourage Brick-and-Mortar retailers to have a digital presence via mobile apps. Retailers like Sephora and Target have set an example for others to follow.
The renowned cosmetic chain store, Sephora has taken customer convenience to a different level. People visiting its' app can virtually try on lipsticks that helps save time in the store, can browse for items and directly saved to a 'beauty bag' for later trial inside the store, can also book appointments in the store.
Discount Retailer Giant Target Corporation, focuses on multiple points of customer engagement with the help of multiple mobile apps. The most popular Target Apps include the regular Target App, Target Registry, Kids' Wishlist. Apart from these, an app called Cartwheel allows customers to find deals at the local store and add them to a personalized barcode. This will help customers in easily finding the item when they are in the store.
Store Fulfillment & Personal Touch
Brick-and-Mortar has always prevailed because of these two aspects. Instant gratification is still one major thing that customers enjoy. The whole idea of trying out and touching an item before purchase will always go down well with customers. Also, the human touch in the form of store associates does play a major role in conversion. Customers might perceive item details online as redundant and promotional. But with in-store shopping, they can take their time in getting all their queries answered. One might associate more levels of trust with in store associates and customers perceive their inputs as insightful. These aspects of instant gratification and personal touch has and will always hold Brick-and-Mortar in good stead.
Advancement in Technology
Retail Stores in the years to come promises to be more than just a wee bit different to that of today. Technology is the major enforcer. The advent of virtual mirrors and touch interactive screens among others is completely revolutionizing the face of offline retail. Artificial Intelligence and Face & Emotion Tracking Systems will only double up the power and scope of offline retail as one can almost feel awestruck at the levels of customer shopping enhancement that can be achieved. The future of Brick-and-Mortar looks bright to say the least.