Online business is vital in the digital age, but there’s still an argument that you should keep your physical store.
With so much of modern commerce trending towards the digital end of the scale, brick-and-mortar stores are becoming increasingly scarce. However, as we’ve examined before, interpersonal relationships with your consumers can have a huge impact on consumer perception of your brand and customer retention. In today’s digital-eat-digital world, is there any point in having a physical store, or is it better to focus all your business in the online marketplace and let the bricks crumble to the ground? There isn’t one answer for all businesses; here we break down how to determine the sweet spot for your company.
Making the decision to focus on physical vs digital stores comes down to one simple principle: what kind of experience can one offer that the other cannot? The end result is the same: when the transaction is complete, the consumer is at home with the product that they have purchased from you; it is the process that they go through to acquire that product that must be put under the microscope.
For many consumers, especially younger ones, the convenience of online shopping always trumps heading out to a physical store to make purchases. That friendly delivery person knocking at your door and handing you a package offers a convenience for millennials that just can’t be beat! If this is the case with your business, investigate what extra level of customer service might be achieved by having a brick-and-mortar location. Is there a brand voice that could really hit home with your customers if they came to a physical store? Or is the scope of your business more black and white, where your customer just wants to get your product as swiftly and easily as possible?
Depending on the physical location of your store, something else to consider is whether the journey to your store may actually be part of the appeal of your product, or even a necessity for that particular customer. Older consumers who may not feel confident shopping online may need to visit your store in person, so if your product is targeted mostly at an older population then you must consider having multiple locations where they can get to you easily. Is your physical store located in a shopping center, where consumers have access to not only many other stores but also the often pleasant experience of being in a building that is designed to make you stick around? Lianna Brinded writes for Business Insider about the psychology of shopping center design and how they have the potential to increase stores’ profits by the minute.
Making a decision of how to combine the physical and digital can be hard to confront, but there is a solution that can help you to decide your business’s successful elixir recipe: data. Lisa Arthur writes for Forbes on the importance of using data to uncover the best combination of physical and digital to maximize profits. She writes, “The insights you need to optimize your online/offline mix are in the data you’re collecting…Leverage your data so you know your customers. Track your progress. Analyze your results. Successful marketing is well-planned marketing, and more and more these days, good planning requires optimizing a mix of online and offline tactics.” By using the hard data to see trends in your customers’ buying habits, you can target the market so that they choose you not only for the first time, but also every single time thereafter, whether it be online or in store.
There is no one-size-fits-all formula to decide how much online and offline presence your brand has. Using data and carefully considering your customer demographics, however, will give you the answer you need, whether that answer be the local mall or a .com.
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