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Why More Online Shops Are Opening Physical Locations
Remember when everyone predicted the rise of online commerce would be the end of the brick-and-mortar business? It turns out that prediction was a little premature.
When shopping first went online and became common, many thought it would transform how the retail industry worked. Anyone living anywhere could buy whatever they wanted with a credit card, a mailing address, and at the click of a button. You could live in the most remote corner of America and order the same thing that a person in New York City could buy.
Empty malls, shopping centers, and big box stores spread across America attest to that. The same goes for retail workers, many of whom lost jobs to robot pickers and fulfillment warehouse workers.
But then something curious started to happen a few years ago. Many of those same online retailers opened physical locations. A handful of examples include Warby Parker, Casper, Amazon, Sierra Trading Post, Texas Tushies, Kohara + Co, and BuddyLove.
Online stores opening a physical retail location have many benefits centered around expanded presence. Are you looking to expand your online presence? An ecommerce SEO agency can provide targeted assistance and consulting services.
Can Physical Retail Thrive in an Era of Online Shopping?
Digital-first has been the mantra of online and direct-to-consumer retailers for years. But as the retail landscape evolves, so too are the ways that brands focus on promoting growth.
“With the influx of digitally native brands in every category and the proliferation of channels, DTC brands can no longer rely purely on ecommerce to drive revenue,” notes an article from Shopify. “As a result, DTC brands are embracing omnichannel and have started opening physical stores.”
The move comes as retail vacancy rates fall in major cities and shoppers say they will be doing more in-person shopping as pandemic restrictions lift. Furthermore, many retailers are learning from online shopping during the pandemic and applying them to brick-and-mortar strategies. Those lessons include marketing basics such as high-quality customer service, innovative use of consumer data, strong search engine optimization work, and presenting shoppers with various methods to shop.
Using Brick and Mortar Stores as Part of Omnichannel Marketing Strategies
Omnichannel commerce is a phrase you likely hear more of these days. What is omnichannel commerce? Omnichannel commerce, or omnichannel retail, is a multichannel approach to sales that focuses on a seamless customer experience. It is one where the customer can move effortlessly from mobile shopping to social shopping to shopping in a brick-and-mortar store.
Omnichannel marketing hinges on realizing that even shoppers who use physical stores will almost always research products online before buying. Many online buyers first saw their products in brick-and-mortar stores.
Omnichannel operations focus on the entire customer experience, not just a single experience in a single place. Brick-and-mortar shops with a winning omnichannel marketing strategy use a handful of methods to remain successful:
- Their primary focus is on digital operations.
- Their inventory system is bulletproof.
- They embrace all fulfillment methods, from shipping to delivery to curbside pickup to old-fashioned in-store purchases.
- They encourage events that generate foot traffic, such as workshops, gatherings, and speakers.
Advantages of Opening Physical Locations
Leaning heavily on the lessons learned from omnichannel marketing, online stores are successfully opening brick-and-mortar retail locations. There are plenty of good reasons for doing so, but they all boil down to giving the customer more options to shop.
The reasons why businesses open brick-and-mortar locations:
- Returns: Customers love having the ability to make returns easy. For online stores with a brick-and-mortar location, getting the customer into a store also gives them another opportunity to make a sale. It also gets inventory ready to sell more quickly.
- Partnerships: Many online stores use partnerships when they open physical locations. Partnerships can boost business for both brands and mean each company shoulders less of a burden when it comes to paying the rent.
- More opportunities: A digital-only approach will only take a company so far, with customer acquisition costs rising as online retailers fight for pay-per-click advertising space.
- Different (and perhaps better) experiences: No matter how great your website is, it is still only a tool for shoppers to browse and click. Physical retail, meanwhile, creates opportunities for experiential retail and more engaging experiences. In retail stores, the focus becomes customer engagement, not sales, helping to take retail to the next level.
- Building brand image: Opening a physical store also gives online retailers a more engaging way to build their brand image. Customers can see, touch, sit on, or try on products, which helps create an emotional connection between customers and the brand.
Opening a Physical Location? Here Are Some Factors to Consider
After establishing your online presence, opening a physical location is a big commitment with potentially big payoffs and considerable risk.
Here are some words of caution:
- Test before you commit: You don’t have to go all-in from the start. Smaller-scale options include mobile retail, pop-up stores, and concept stores in established stores.
- Find the right location: Physical retail has and always will hinge on location and find the right size, good lease, and right amount of competition.
- Focus on the customer experience: Online branding does not easily translate into an in-store experience. The future of retail will focus on great user experiences.
- Continue to focus on the basics of online retail: Your online experience can continue to help you as you look to establish a brick-and-mortar beachhead. Help from an experienced ecommerce SEO agency will ensure your online operations mesh with your physical retail operations for a winning omnichannel strategy.
As you can see, there are several aspects to consider before establishing a physical storefront to compliment your online retail business. If you would like to learn more about successfully adding a brick-and-mortar shop to your online business, contact the pros at Digital Authority Partners today to get started.