According to the US Commerce Department, Americans made over $500 billion in online purchases in 2018. Groceries, clothing, and sporting goods are flying out of warehouses and to your doorstep for delivery the next day or even in hours. Consumers are purchasing cars, and yes even houses, without seeing and touching them in person.
To paraphrase Mark Twain, “Rumors of the death of brick and mortar are greatly exaggerated”. Online sales have risen from 5.1% of total retail sales in 2007 to 14.3% in 2018. However, brick and mortar sales rose 2.0% from 2016 to 2017 and still controls nearly 86% of the market. It’s still the 800-pound gorilla in the room and cannot be ignored.
Brick and mortar retailers must do what they’ve had to do for over a hundred years… adapt to market demands and leverage advantages over online, such as:
- Try it on, sit on it, take it for a test drive, squeeze it to see if it’s ripe- can’t do all that online
- Customer service- ability to speak directly with company representatives and get immediate feedback
- Avoid shipping costs- grab it, pay for it, and drive home
- Product returns- faster and easier
The experience- people may not remember what you said but they will remember how you made them feel. Listen, adapt, and implement… signage, lighting, store layout, digital technology, inventory, and interaction with salespeople
Gaining competitive advantage is all about adapting to market conditions, listening to your customers, and being agile enough to respond before the market changes again.