What Does the Future Hold for Brick-and-Mortar Retail?

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Retail is changing rapidly. The future is uncertain as online shopping has had a sweeping presence that has changed the playing field dramatically. There has been a shift in buying behaviour. Consumers are trending towards digital buying platforms. Meanwhile, brick-and-mortar retailers are battling to compete.

With ecommerce giants like Amazon, competition is undoubtedly more difficult for offline retailers. However, this doesn’t stop competition completely. Brick-and-mortar stores need to adapt with new marketing strategies and new products sold exclusively in stores. There are a variety of ways to approach this problem. By leveraging your capabilities and advantages in the marketplace, you can lure customers back to brick-and-mortar stores and stay competitive with e-retailers.

When you buy a product online, you generally have to wait a couple of days before the product arrives. Some e-retailers offer free shipping, but the opportunity cost is that you have to wait. If you want to receive your purchase urgently, you will most likely pay a premium at the check out for accelerated shipping. This impacts your overall ordering cost as the product’s price is still the same as it is in the store, but you’re paying more for the shipping. Therefore, the ordering cost is greater due to shipping fees and wait times.

In addition, the item you ordered may not be exactly what you wanted. If it is clothing, it might not fit right. Other times, the quality or material of a product is not what you expected. Therefore, you need to return or exchange it back to the e-retailer. Your ordering cost increases further, with more time without your product. You also spend time going to the post office to mail it back. Depending on the e-retailer you may have to pay for your return shipping. Again, the increased ordering cost includes the opportunity cost of not having the product when you wanted it.

Enhance customer interactions through personalisation

If you are looking at a product online, e-commerce sites can recommend other products you might like. This is based on an algorithm from what other people bought when they selected that item. Although it can be helpful, it is not the same as face to face customer service and suggestions. With the right staff on board, they can make an in-store experience something exceptional. They can tailor products to the customer; they can get different sizes and custom wrap purchases if desired.

Be competitive with pricing

Having a competitive price is one of the most important parts of your strategy. You can negotiate with your vendors to agree to bulk ordering. Often with large bulk orders, vendors are likely to sell their goods at a lower cost per item. However if your company does not have the capacity or need for such large orders, there are ways around this. You can pair up with other buying partners and consolidate your orders to create one bulk order. Then you both experience the benefits of lower pricing but not the mass quantity. With this solution, you can pass on the savings to your customer and stay competitive on price.

Brick-and-mortar stores can keep their store fronts. However, it is important to recognise that they will need to evolve to have an online presence as well with ecommerce capability. You can expand your market and utilise kit-set website tools to create an intuitive online store. With initiative and good marketing strategies, brick-and-mortar stores will continue to compete.

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Melanie - Unleashed Software

Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.

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