The rise of online retail giants has proven to be the death knell for smaller traditional retailers. Rather than embracing a complete move to online sales, however, both traditional and web-based companies are turning to a hybrid brick-and-click business model. The online print shop Vistaprint opened a brick-and-mortar location in Toronto, and the online Italian shoe company M. Gemi has begun building physical locations in the United States. By following suit and combining the best features of online and offline shopping, you can increase convenience and boost product sales.
Despite the popularity of online shopping, brick-and-mortar stores are still more profitable than online stores. One reason for this trend is the tactile experience of seeing and handling merchandise, an option that motivates shoppers’ purchasing decisions. The brick-and-click model satisfies that desire by offering products for in-person inspection, either in a store or a showroom. Physical stores also cater to impulse buyers and customers who love the instant gratification of traditional shopping. During periods of high demand, such as holidays, brick-and-mortar locations offer the certainty of immediate acquisition — an obvious advantage for customers who have experienced frustrating shipping delays in the past.
One of the major advantages of online sales is the ability to track customer behavior. A brick-and-click model lets you to bring tracking technology into physical locations, offering powerful insight into preferences and patterns. Using readily accessible app technology, you can encourage shoppers to check in and track the items they purchase. An app that links to the buyer’s online account enables you to find connections between online and offline shopping behavior, making it easier to create a more tailored experience.
Some stores are using RFID technology on individual items to see which products make it into the fitting rooms, which are discarded, and which are ultimately purchased. That information, combined with details about item placement, price points, and customer behavior, make it easier to create a more effective store layout. For example, if you know that customers are more likely to try on and purchase items displayed in the front of the store, you can place high-value pieces in that location to boost sales.
Click and Collect
If you’re looking to get in on the brick-and-click model, a click-and-collect option — where shoppers order online and pick up in store — is one way to start. For customers, this strategy combines the convenience of online shopping and the instant gratification of offline shopping. Instead of paying for shipping and waiting for a package to arrive, the customer can pick it up on his own timeline. If the item isn’t satisfactory, it’s possible to do an immediate return or exchange in store. The click-and-collect strategy can provide an advantage over competitors who only offer online or in-person options. It may also increase overall sales. Macy’s found that customers tend to buy additional items when they pick up an order, spending 125% of the value of the original purchase.
Whether your company is currently an offline or online business, a shift to a hybrid brick-and-click model can pay off handsomely. By integrating the best of both worlds, you can create a more convenient experience that leads to stronger sales.