There is wealth of data being published that demonstrates the growth of online and mobile sales. However, more recently, there is also a growing body of research suggesting that consumers are increasingly seeking instore experiences and that the presence of a retail location can help boost online and mobile sales.
Here’s why retail stores are still important:
Firstly – letting people interact in person with products helps drive sales in any channel. In Tim McKeough’s article “Clicks to Bricks: Online retails find the lure of a store‘ recently published in the New York Times, he cites the example of Lee Broom – a British designer who invested in a physical store to allow consumers to see the product in person, touch it, and understand it’s scale. Before this, the designer sold exclusively through online channels. The result? A 50% increase in sales over 12 months. And this is not an isolated example.
Secondly despite online and mobile sales growing, consumers still seek out physical retail stores. According to a survey conducted by Coldwell Banker Commercial, nearly half of US shoppers prefer to make purchases instore instead of shopping online for many reasons. Also, today’s consumer is looking to be entertained in retail environments, and in fact, in the survey by Salesfloor, 74% of respondents said that any retail experience beyond the normal shopping activity would bring them to a physical store.
Lastly, one can’t underestimate the impact of sales associates in the purchase journey. The survey by Salesfloor found that 87% of respondents may buy based on store associate input. 73% say sales associates who remember their personal preferences/style impact how much they buy from a retailer. This is easy to do in bricks and mortar stores – in fact, we’ve helped arm our client’s associates with powerful tools to help them make recommendations and provide extra support for customers. But it’s much harder to do in online and mobile channels who mostly rely on user reviews.
The key is to make bricks and mortar stores a destination and create experiences for shoppers. It’s also important to merge experiences across Online, Mobile and Instore, as that’s what today’s consumers are starting to expect. This is something we’re passionate about at Reality – and we believe the use of creative technology can help enable smarter, more integrated, experiential retail environments. .