Brick-and-Mortar vs. Online Retailers: Who Wins?

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In an age where many industries are turning to technology to advance their businesses, there’s one industry where having a physical showroom gives you the upper hand – and that’s retail!

While brick-and-mortar retailers often struggle to compete against the low prices available online, solely online retailers can’t compete with the traditional retailer’s ability to capture the “touch and feel” customers. Physical stores provide customers with a different experience than online stores can – one where they can truly connect with the people they interact with and the environment they’re in.

Use these tips to keep your brick-and-mortar store ahead of the computerized competition:

1. Create an emotional connection

Humans are more likely to have an emotional reaction to a physical environment rather than a virtual one. When customers shop online, they’re sitting in front of a computer – it’s a screen, there’s no emotion. Play off your customers’ natural inclination towards a physical environment by creating an inviting, attractive looking showroom. Pay attention to paint, color schemes, and lighting.

Emotional connection doesn't have to stop with the look and feel of your store. You also need to create a connection with your customer, personalizing the experience to their needs. They are in your store already because you are filling a need, whether that's for a prescribed product like a mastectomy bra or breast pump. Meet them where they are emotionally. Be supportive and provide as much information as you can. Suggest additional products that may make their lives easier, better, or solve a problem they not realize they can fix. For example, clients who are undergoing chemo have sensitive skin. Suggest a specialty skincare product made for chemo patients, like Lindi Skin. By making these additional suggestions, you are building their trust and hopefully creating repeat customers. 

2. Satisfy both kinds of shoppers

Most customers fit into one of two categories:

a. The goal-oriented shopper. These customers know what they are looking for and want to easily find it. Category signage and easily approachable and knowledgeable customer service employees will help these shoppers to be served quickly and efficiently.

b. The browsing shopper. These customers come in to browse, hoping to find something but not sure what that something is. Capture their attention with signage, colors, and displays. The manufacturers of the products you carry in your store may have display items that can help draw attention to their products. 

Brick and mortar stores have the advantage of providing great customer service. With both types of customers, customer service staff can either help customers get in and out quickly or make product recommendations.

3. Understand the habits of your customers

Retail is the domain of women. Females typically shop to purchase both essentials and discretionary goods for the family. It’s not surprising that women account for over 80% of consumer spending, or about five trillion dollars annually, according to the US Census Bureau. While men generally shop for only what they need, when they need it, women are more open to add ‘this or that’ to their shopping list.

Understand and capitalize on these habits by placing impulse or add-items strategically throughout the store. Your female customers will see these items and will be more likely to add them to their final purchase.

For more information, contact VGM Retail.

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