Even if statistics announced a 17% growth for e-commerce in 2016 against only 2.8% for retail stores, we are far from the inevitable disappearance of physical stores some people tend to predict. Here are 5 reasons why this prediction is far from reality:
1) A new stage
The selling space’s staging as well as the creation of a particular universe are difficult processes to implement online. However, those techniques are essential for every major retailing brand. We need to look at this para.
The store is the brand’s showcase, it enables the retailer to establish a relationship with customers. The rise of experiential marketing proves it. This technique aims to create a singular experience within the selling space in order to arouse customer engagement and attachment to the brand. By stimulating customers’ senses while they’re shopping in-store, the brand can create a memorable experience, increasing customer loyalty.
In the fashion world, Abercrombie & Fitch is a well-known symbol of experiential and sensorial marketing. The brand stimulates 4 senses at the same time: The sight, with a technique accentuating lights on products and keeping in the dark the rest of the store. The sense of smell by diffusing its own fragrance “Fierce N°8”. The hearing thanks to continuously played electro music and finally, touching by only using “soft touch” materials.
2) A relational experience
If plenty of customers became enthusiastic regarding online shopping, some others are still very attached to in-store shopping with its values of authenticity, human and emotional. Real-time recommendations, complete availability and conviviality are some of the attractive features and engagements that sales associates commit to in order to accompany and satisfy the client.
To highlight the employees’ expertise and reinforce the customer’s attachment, brands tend to develop complementary activities, directly in-store. Lululemon Athletica, yoga apparel retailer, is an example of such a practice. The brand’s sales associates are all highly skilled in terms of yoga and offers yoga classes in-store in order to improve its relationships with customers.
3) A sense of service
In spite of numerous advantages, ecommerce often lacks of customer relationship management. Nonetheless, it remains a key concept for clients, who expect a quality of service and an efficient after-sale service. Those two elements continue to be more efficient within traditional stores and it allows us to understand why Amazon recently decided to open up physical selling-points.
4) A product at your fingertips
One of the major differences of a physical store compared to a website is also its main strength: the ability for the client to see and touch the product before buying it, or even getting it without additional shipping fees. The essential benefit of physical selling points is in facts the possibility to try out and manipulate the product before paying for it.
5) A cross-channel strategy
The physical store is more than ever the meeting point between the brand and its customers. Indeed, stores seem today to benefit from a real renaissance, inspired by founding principles of traditional commerce and adapted to the digital era we know.
Nowadays, the question is not about knowing whether or not the Internet will eliminate physical selling points, but more about how brands will manage the relationship between the two distribution channels, and by which means.