The Relationship Between Online and Brick And Mortar

by Mark Doornbosch

online and brick and mortar retail

The line continues to be drawn, and redrawn, between Online and Brick and Mortar retail… How can you influence where your customers choose to shop?

With the internet still growing exponentially, retail status quo is likely to continue to change in the coming decade. But it doesn’t mean the end of brick and mortar.

In fact, according to a 2014 REIT report, companies that are working an omni channel strategy will continue to rely on their brick and mortar business.


Recommendations, Referrals, and Experience

Retailers and manufacturers need to find a synergy between offline and online if they want to take advantage of the connected youth that are coming of age.


What Retailers need to know

The online experience offers some great options to consumers. These reign king in driving the continued online growth:

  • Price comparisons
  • Personalized experience
  • Convenience


However, studies show that consumers also really enjoy the in-store shopping experience.

1. Brick and mortar locations allow consumers to socialize and entertain themselves while shopping. No one gets together with friends and family to shop online – but they do get together to shop in a store.  This is a facet of the consumer experience that cannot be fully met by online and therein lies an advantage for offline stores.

2. Creating an alluring and engaging in-store experience can drive consumers to visit your location. Online transactions are very impersonal and by nature lack excitement. Shoppers still like to shop in person; to pick up and hold items, ask an associate about it, and immediately take it home. The tricky part is creating a comfortable and inviting store that is enjoyable for consumers to spend time in, and that they would want to visit with friends and family.

Think about retailers like Jordan Furniture in Boston adding ride simulators to their stores to create an experience that is worth sharing and talking about. But you don’t have to build attractions – it’s all about creating an experience.

For example, Apple Stores have a unique experience that makes people feel like they are part of a unique group. In-store experience has a significant impact on overall sales, online and off. Even if their final point of purchase is online, the brand connections made in the stores will carry over and impact their online purchase decisions.

Approximately 80% of consumers research products and ask for advice before buying. A lot of this happens online but the most valuable research can happen in store, if done right. Recommendations coming from an trustworthy and engaging associate carry significantly more weight with a consumer than online research.

Empowering associates with knowledge and training to advocate on your behalf while creating a great brand experience will drive both online and offline sales.


Consider also customer loyalty  

A stellar shopping experience provides a short-cut to the decision/action to buy and creates loyalty. Loyal customers will return to buy again and again, even if you aren’t the lowest priced product on the market, because you’ll be recognized as having better value.

Loyal customers also have a tendency to becoming brand champions.

Consider that 66.4% of shoppers update their Facebook status to tell friends about deals or finds. And that consumers are 71% more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals. Remember that a stellar shopping experience can either reinforce the loyalty or cause a disconnect.  A disconnect leads to doubt, causing consumers to lengthen their buying process into further investigation. Your in-store representation has a huge impact on growing your sales and audience both off and online.

Online and brick and mortar stores are not enemies

In fact, they are eternally intertwined. They depend upon each other and will see diminished returns on their own.

Most of the time when we think about the growth of online shopping, we think about casting the biggest net possible into the vast ocean of prospects. But think about the little things first. Everything, no matter how small, from the price tag to the carton, has an impact on the consumers’ purchase decision.

Manufacturers can gain visibility into and control what is going on in retail with help from 3rd party support that works with retailers. Think about how to impact the individual consumer on a personal level, creating an in-store connection with them to power your online sales.

If you need help navigating the evolving retail landscape, you may want to consider an experienced sales and marketing partner that specializes in driving sell through. If you want to see how MarketSource is helping our clients Sell More, Faster, sign up for our Retail guide series starting with our guide on Optimizing Market coverage.


Click here to download the first guide in our series on Optimizing Retail Market Coverage


Topic: Leadership


As a Retail Practice Leader at MarketSource, Mark works with national brands focused on retail distribution to execute their field-marketing plans. The MarketSource message is simple; we help you sell more, faster. As the self-proclaimed Retail Sales Sensei and Master of Marketing Zen, Mark can be reached via LinkedIn or through the MarketSource sales concierge.

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