During the Covid-19 pandemic, e-commerce became an essential channel for retailers. Even though retail spending generally decreased, online sales grew over the previous year. However, this doesn’t take away from the fact that e-commerce still only represents a small percentage of total retail sales, while the majority of retail sales still happen in physical stores.
This makes a synergy between online and offline crucial for retail success in the near future.
Here are 6 reasons why brick-and-mortar stores remain vital for retail
1- Consumers are more likely to buy a product they see in person.
According to research by KPMG, the main reason people prefer shopping in physical stores is the fact that it enables them to see, experience, and test the products in person before buying them.
Offering a physical location where people can go and see the products, the colors, the sizes, or the materials can eliminate consumer doubts and help close a sale.
2- Physical stores reduce the cost of returns.
Seeing things in person reduces product returns due to them not being the right size, color, or material. Items bought in physical stores are less likely to be returned than products bought online. According to research, shoppers return only 5-10% of what they buy in-store, but 15-40% of what they purchase online.
For this reason, physical stores can help reduce the cost of returns for retailers by removing shipping and transportation fees.
3- High-quality, face-to-face customer service increases sales.
Despite the convenience of online shopping, the human element is still an essential factor of the retail experience.
According to research, 2 out of 3 shoppers say that a helpful sales associate makes them more likely to visit a brick-and-mortar store, and 3 out of 4 shoppers are likely to spend more after receiving quality service from in-store staff.
4- The brand experience is still innately physical.
A physical store allows your brand to stand out in a highly competitive industry by creating a unique and engaging brand experience. Physical stores enable retailers to immerse their customers in their brand culture and create lasting impressions. Designing a physical experience with the right balance of safety, excitement, and convenience is key to distinguishing your brand from the competition.
5- Free market research on your customers’ behavior and habits.
Although data collected from online stores can help identify trends, retailers can learn a lot about their customers simply by observing them as they shop and interact with their space and products.
6- Physical stores bring more traffic to your online store.
Research by the International Council of Shopping Centers shows that when a retailer opens a new physical store location, traffic to their website increases by 37% the following quarter.
When retailers open new brick-and-mortar locations, their online presence increases drastically with brand mentions and online searches. This online buzz equals increased financial returns, making physical stores a good investment both in terms of popularity and profitability.
How V-Count Can Help
With tens of millions of consumers getting vaccinated, retailers can expect a solid return to their physical stores. Retailers who want to thrive in the post-COVID environment must offer a physical experience with the right balance of safety, excitement, and convenience and adopt an efficient, consumer-centric approach by investing in technologies that boost the omnichannel customer experience across all platforms, online and offline.
Through V-Count’s Ultima AI people counting sensor and eCommerce-style analytics platform, physical stores can gain valuable insights into their traffic trends, business operations, marketing performance, conversion rates, and much more. Analyzing people counting data enables retailers to make fact-based decisions, improve customer experience, and increase revenues.