Clicks to Bricks: The Perks of Combining Digital and Physical Stores
By Jennifer Conklin, Senior Account Manager
There’s nothing better than shopping from the comfort of your own home and receiving the goods you’ve purchased just days later, or sometimes even sooner, with little to no effort. In the hecticness of our world and the infiltration of technology into basically every facet of our lives, the ease and convenience of shopping from where and when we want is quite enticing.
Yet lately, there have been a number of online-only stores making the transition to brick-and-mortar (Bonobos, Rent the Runway, and even Amazon, to name a few). What’s behind this ‘clicks-to-bricks’ phenomenon?
Bonobos established their physical presence with the introduction of their Guide Shops
Well, while eCommerce growth has been rapidly outpacing in-store growth, physical stores are still the main touch point of sales for the majority of shoppers. In fact, PwC’s annual consumer survey, Total Retail: Retailers and the Age of Disruption, shows that nearly 40% of those surveyed purchase items from a brick-and-mortar store weekly compared to 27% purchasing online weekly. Whether it’s to get a feel for a product before buying, to avoid delivery fees and delays, or to minimize the risk of online credit card fraud, today’s technology savvy consumers have not lost their appetite for shopping in physical stores.
Consumers dictate what approach retailers need to take in producing the most attractive shopping experience to create sales. With the many shopping channels available to consumers, it’s clear that retailers shouldn’t be looking at the situation as digital or physical, but rather as digital and physical.
As I discussed in a previous blog on omni-channel retail, a well-rounded, digitally infused shopping experience is what customers want. Retailers need to answer their customers’ expectations by providing them with a seamless shopping experience that spans multiple channels.
While technology continues to drive new practices and advancements in retail, online stores should not be quick to forego an in person experience. Advantages of having a physical presence in addition to your online store include giving your customers the chance to fully engage with your products in a multisensory experience (which can also cut down on returns) and enabling you to establish brand loyalty and awareness through “human touch” and in person customer service.
Still, there are some considerations online stores need to evaluate before jumping into opening physical locations as an alternative sales channel. The costs spent on retail space, supplies, and staffing can be significant. But if you think you can offset these expenses with an increase of sales, as Warby Parker did (their physical stores sell an average of $3,000 a square foot annually, higher than retailers like Tiffany & Co. and Best Buy), then it might be worth the jump.
In 2013, Warby Parker opened their first physical location in Manhattan’s SoHo district
Furthermore, online retailers planning on opening physical stores should take lessons in best practices from current omni-channel retailers like Blu Dot, who implemented an innovative POS approach in their stores. If you’re an online retailer moving into omni-channel, the bar is set high; you have to get the online channel of your business right because it’s synonymous with your brand.
Not ready to open a permanent physical store? Not a problem. There’s plenty of other options of which eCommerce retailers can take advantage. Consider pop-up shops, which can generate a lot of buzz for your store at opportune times—think back-to-school or holiday—while not requiring the amount of resources that an annual store does.
So, if you’re already successfully selling online, you may want to consider bringing your digital presence into a physical store to increase sales and build brand awareness. Want to learn more? Contact us!
Jennifer Conklin is a Senior Account Manager at LYONSCG, bringing over fifteen years of experience to the eCommerce implementation, support and digital strategy teams. Her background is in user experience design and web development. Jennifer graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and resides in Chicago, where she enjoys running, playing with her children, and cheering on the Cubbies.