With massive numbers of stores closing throughout Canada and the United States in 2017, and slowing growth in the national economy that could lead to more closures, some are calling it the retail apocalypse. While it’s true retail has changed significantly with the rise of online shopping, if you’re willing to adapt, your business can continue to thrive.
How Has the Internet Affected Retail Stores?
The retail world has always been competitive, and that’s truer than ever due to e-commerce. Your main competitors used to be stores selling similar products in the same area as you. Now it’s those stores along with all the online shops that can have those same products delivered to people’s doors.
Compounding the problem for retailers is that online shopping continually grows more popular with consumers, with 49% of Canadians saying they find it more convenient than going to a store. The preference for online shopping is greater among younger generations, and many of these teens and young adults also influence their parents to give online shopping a try.
Brick and mortar stores aren’t entirely doomed, though. Even with the many stores closing, there are many new stores opening in their wake. What the internet has done is accelerate how quickly stores open and close. You need your store to remain relevant to consumers for it to survive, which requires joining the e-commerce world and delivering a great in-store experience.
Taking Your Store Online
Considering the way online spending has grown, you must take your retail store online for long-term success. Otherwise, you’re ignoring a huge market of potential customers.
Building an e-commerce site has gotten much easier, and if you want the simplest solution, you can use an e-commerce platform to get your site up and running quickly. While you can have employees handle order fulfillment if the volume isn’t too high, you may want to work out a plan with your suppliers to have them fulfill your online orders for you.
One feature you should be sure to include on your site is the option to buy a product online for an in-store pickup. Many customers appreciate the convenience of placing an online order and picking up their purchase that day instead of waiting for it to arrive.
Improving the In-Store Experience
Brick and mortar stores have their advantages over e-commerce sites, and it’s important to make the most of them. Since customers can’t try before they buy when they’re shopping online, give them the opportunity to interact with your products in your store.
Instead of just displaying products and putting the emphasis on sales, focus on creating an enjoyable customer experience. Train your staff so they know your products inside and out and can make helpful recommendations. Online shopping is typically about finding what you want, buying it, and getting on with your day. While your brick and mortar store may not be able to match the convenience of an online store, it can make shopping more fun.
The rise of online shopping doesn’t have to mean the end of your retail store. By getting into ecommerce yourself and creating an in-store experience that customers love, you can stay ahead of the game.