As physical stores across the UK re-open their doors and emerge back into the retail landscape following months of enforced inactivity, businesses will be hoping for a rapid uptick in trade as customers return to the high street.
Online has become a fundamental channel for most retailers during the Covid-19 pandemic and businesses have been scrambling to adapt and anticipate changing consumer preferences.
But as the UK unlocks, there doesn’t need to be any discord between your physical premises and your web presence – the two should complement each other rather than being an either/or proposition.
Synergy is the best route for success
As overall retail spend decreased in 2020 due to repeated national lockdowns, Ecommerce sales still grew compared to the previous year.
The days when physical retail outlets enjoyed a monopoly on the consumer have clearly gone, but while online shopping has rapidly gained market share, physical stores continue to appeal to customers for many reasons.
While the events of 2020 may have skewed the figures and encouraged more people to shop online, research shows that 82.5 per cent of all global retail sales still occurred in physical stores up to and including last year.
Experts have been predicting the demise of the ‘bricks and mortar’ store for several years, but figures suggest that a synergy between offline and online will be key to retail success in the near future.
Forward-thinking businesses who see where the world is headed know that online and offline need to become one single customer experience, with Ecommerce complementing your physical offer, not competing against it.
Both channels have their benefits
There are of course still a number of benefits to shopping in person rather than fully relying on an online experience.
Research has shown that one of the main reasons consumers still prefer to shop in physical stores is simply to experience and test products in person before buying them.
Seeing items in person also reduces the chances of a product being returned because it’s not the right size, colour or material.
The click and collect concept has also proved extremely popular both with customers and retailers.
Compared to home delivery, collecting in-store can be more convenient for customers as it allows them to get their purchases when they want, without having to wait for a courier at home.
For retailers, in-store pick-up is cheaper than delivery, brings shoppers through the doors and can then lead to bigger baskets.
Analysts get free market research on customers’ preferences and habits, plus recent research showed that when a retailer opens a new physical store location, traffic to their website can increase by 37% in the following quarter.
A Harvard Business Review survey also found that shoppers who buy both online and in physical shops tend to spend more on average compared to those who only interact with a brand on one channel.
This all means that physical retail still has a key role to play in many retailers’ short- and medium-term strategies.
A physical store gives you the opportunity to create a truly engaging brand experience mirrored by your Ecommerce site.
Concept stores and showrooms, for example, enable retailers to immerse potential customers in their brand identity and culture, creating long-lasting impressions.
Bringing together the best of online and offline
A unified online and offline customer experience will only become more important as customers embark on a purchase journey in the way best suited to them.
Businesses and brands taking advantage of this dual approach are likely to prosper. It’s time to make the best use of technology in both mediums – you don’t need to create parallel experiences, just consistent ones!
Want to find out more? Get in touch with the Air: Ecommerce team and let’s find out how we can help your online store grow.