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Does Having a Brick-and-Mortar Location Increase Sales?

August 03, 2018 - 1:00 pm

Given the steadily increasing rise in e-commerce sales and widespread closure announcements from large retail chains, is the fate of brick-and-mortar stores really doomed? Data from a February 2018 U.S. Census Bureau Department of Commerce report suggests the contrary. E-commerce increased 2.7 percent from the third quarter of 2017 to the fourth quarter, but 90 percent of retail sales still came from physical retail stores. Does this mean that having a brick-and-mortar location can increase sales? Here are some advantages to brick-and-mortar shopping that may help render a “yes” to the highly-debated question.


Instant gratification

While online retail giants like Amazon are stepping up their game with fast delivery options, such as overnight or two-day delivery, these expedited shipping options often carry a fee and buyers must wait at least one day to receive their order. Shopping at a brick-and-mortar location allows buyers to have immediate access to their purchases. They pull an item off the shelf, pay for it at the register, and take it home right away. This means a lot to someone who is looking for a last-minute gift, solving a sudden DIY home fix-it problem, avoiding added fees, or just simply not interested in waiting for their purchase to arrive.


Try-before-buy experience

Buying things like clothes and shoes online can be tricky because sizes can vary, and there is a lot to be said about something looking better on the rack. Walking into the mall and trying an outfit on can help a consumer get exactly what he wants before he pays for it. Many shoppers like to physically test, try, and touch all kinds of products, from electronics to jewelry to food, before buying them. Online retailers can’t provide this opportunity, which can result in the hassle of shipping the item back and funds being tied up until the return is processed.


Shopping is a social experience

Going shopping is often a social experience shared by family and friends. You can make a day out of strolling through the mall or the streets, browsing the latest fashion trends, finding the perfect birthday gift, or helping your BFF get just the right dress for prom. Online shopping is often done alone and for convenience, and cannot replace the fun and togetherness that shopping with someone else at a store can bring.


Blending digital and physical platforms

While brick-and-mortar stores are still the most popular shopping option, business owners need to move with the digital times in order to grow and meet increased e-commerce convenience needs. Therefore, finding a way to blend and maximize customers’ digital and in-store experience is important. Include a “pick up in store” option for online orders on your website. Draw customers into your store with social media posts containing discount coupons, eye-catching product photos, fun contests, events and promotions. Also include an engaging and informational blog on your store’s website, as well as through an email blast. Utilize buying trends via the website or a mobile app to create personalized recommendations for your customers when they visit your store.


Delivering the “Wow” Factor at the Door

Finally, online shopping is often a kind of one-dimensional scroll, point, and click experience. However, you have the opportunity to “wow” every customer who steps into your store. Make sure your sales staff greets each customer with a smile, and offers friendly, knowledgeable service. Doing small things like offering free samples, suggesting new products, and carrying out packages can make a big difference to customers who are looking for the kind of interactive, one-on-one personal shopping experience an online store can’t deliver.


This article was written by Lori Melton for Small Business Pulse