Due to its virtually limitless reach and the low barrier to entry, many startups feel like eCommerce is where it's at. And, while there are many successful eCommerce stores out there, joining the ranks of them isn't as simple as putting up a website and adding a shopping cart. The fact is, about 90% of sales are still happening in physical stores, and the reasoning is simple.
At the end of the day, humans want to buy from humans. That's why the most successful eCommerce stores have gone to great lengths in order to build a strong USP and, more importantly, a strong brand that helps them connect with their customers. But, despite the amount of effort they are pouring into growing their eCommerce sales, the biggest online retailers are putting additional money into physical storefronts.
With a physical storefront, even global eCommerce companies like Amazon realize they can reach an untapped segment that only shops in store and they can also service all of their customers better thanks to the face-to-face buying experience. Even more importantly, a physical store allows these companies to collect valuable feedback from the customers who stop by, more so than an eCommerce store will ever be capable of doing.
The Biggest Brands Are Using Retail
Retail isn’t dead, and here are a few brand examples that prove it:
- Luxury Italian shoemaker Gemi puts mobile as their central focus, but that doesn’t mean they don’t see the value in physical customer interaction. That’s why they have two full-line showrooms and pop-up trucks that travel to visit target demographics periodically.
- A store devoted to luggage? Away has proven the effectiveness of the retail model with four locations devoted entirely to their single product: the carry-on. Their stores showcase it in all of its sizes and colors, selling to customers in New York City, Austin, Los Angeles, and San Francisco while showcasing their lifestyle brand.
- With 17 stores across Canada, Frank and Oak is now the country’s number one millennial brand. Although they have poured millions into making sure their online shopping experience is perfect, founder Ethan Song sees storefronts as “the perfect convergence of omnichannel.”
These three companies are high-end brands that are household names in most luxury neighborhoods, and that’s what makes these examples so powerful. Even with incredible brand exposure and awareness already, these businesses still recognize the importance of a physical store.
Why You Need To Be In Retail
When it comes to your business, having a presence in a retail store will allow you to reach untapped segments of your audience too. In retail, you can more easily answer the three essential questions of who you are, what the product is, and how it will add value to a customer's life. Here’s how:
- Enhance the customer experience. All of the brand examples listed previously didn’t open up a storefront just to make another sale. They focused on reinforcing the customer experience they want to emphasize through their displays and interactions with customers.
- Grow brand awareness. Being in front of a customer on a shelf gives greater brand exposure. Enticing displays can be used to get people to look at your product, even when they otherwise wouldn’t have thought to.
- Educate consumers. Being in the store enables a person to pick up your product and physically inspect it, which makes product packaging a crucial aspect of customer education.
- Use multiple angles. You’ll be able to use in-store advertisements and announcements; retail staff talking about and promoting your product, and even in-store demos to boost engagement.
All of these things together help people better understand your brand while retail staff will be able to communicate feedback about your product so that you can continuously improve.