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Brick-and-Mortar Retailing is Dead...Yeah Right!

We hear all the time that physical retail is dead (or dying) as people now prefer to buy things online. And the only reason people go to a physical store is to see and touch the goods which they then buy online, a phenomenon known as showrooming. But what’s the real story?
I read a great blog recently from Ryan Hartjen comparing traditional retail stores with online stores featuring a really cool infographic. While it’s true that online shopping is growing at a lot faster rate than shopping in-store, which according to some surveys (but not others) is contracting, 94c in every retail dollar spent is still spent in a brick-and-mortar store.
Humans are tactile. They love to touch and see stuff, and they’re social, they love the retail shopping experience and dealing with passionate and knowledgeable sales staff. But the web also allows them to do their research before making that final decision to purchase.
When I was with a customer of ours in Sydney last week Inspired Tribe, I learned that they had recently implemented an online store. Sal, the owner, was disappointed with the early results as there hadn’t been a rush of sales. Lauren, who runs marketing, pointed out that the traffic to the site was way ahead of expectations however a lot of customers were abandoning their cart. When I quizzed them, I found out to create a cart you first needed to register, which was exactly the right thing to do.
Now, Inspired Tribe have an awesome range of goods that Sal personally travels around the world collecting, many of them bespoke. These are exactly the sort of things that shoppers want to touch and see before buying. So what I suggested they do was track whether those customers who created a cart and abandoned, then came into the store to complete the purchase (By the way using Collect they can compare customers who abandoned carts against those who came in-store and made a purchase). If that was the case then the website was actually doing what they wanted, driving people in-store to make a purchase from the wonderful staff who then had the opportunity to upsell them. Enter the new phenomenon of webrooming, where a customer searches online and buys in-store.

So it’s not all bad news for good ol' brick-and-mortar retail stores. But it seems the best answer is for retailers to have an integrated physical and online shopping experience.