If you take a look around, it’s easy to see that online retail has become increasingly competitive. Gaps and niches in the market are filled, and there seems to be a shiny, new brand catering to every market segment out there. In other words, opportunities to really connect with your customers could be disappearing fast.
Over the past few years, having a strong online presence and fast-growing social media was enough to compel shoppers to head your way – but the competition and the sheer number of brands that are now selling online are making it harder and harder to get noticed.
So what’s the next step? Believe it or not, moving into physical retail may be the smartest move.
Retail Makes a Return
Traditional retail stores are currently facing difficulties because the companies failed to see the possibilities of combining innovation with the retail experience. As the transformation of retail continues, we are learning more and more that the retailers who have failed and lost their physical space weren’t even offering their customers a rich shopping experience.
Rather, consumers had to deal with bad lighting, poorly made products and marked up prices, and poor customer service – all just to buy something. Fast forward to today, and savvy retailers are thriving in brick and mortar stores by providing what their customers want – the real shopping experience.
The Strength of Physical Experiences
When it comes to shopping, today’s consumers are as interested in the experience as the object – if not more so. The sheer power of experience is undeniable, and it can also allow you to really set your brand apart from your competitors. Think about it – a physical space is so much easier to individualize than a website, and it has so much more power to evoke all of the senses. The possibility for personalized experiences are endless, also (think VIP nights, in-store classes, live music, and more).
Online Convenience Plus Brand Experience: The Best of Both Worlds
Believe it or not, a brand that has a strong enough backbone and following online doesn’t even need to actually sell anything in its brick and mortar store. Instead, customers can be saved the trouble of actually purchasing their products in store by purchasing from the comfort of home and then having delivered – sometimes the same day. This allows the best of both worlds since customers can interact with your brand in a physical setting but purchase online at their convenience.
Warby Parker is a great example of this. The optical online retail store worked great for a while, but the brand soon realized that its customers wanted to be able to try on and actually feel the glasses on their faces, so they opened physical stores in response.
The physical store isn’t going anywhere. After all, the physical world is where we live – it’s where we work, it’s where we eat dinner, and it’s important. And based on what we’ve learned from working with a number of clients, a brand’s physical space needs to be well designed and thought out to attract customers.
“A beautiful space will not only last much longer than a typical warehouse space, but it will also retain your customers for a longer time and function as a means of brand activation that online images simply can’t touch. To break it down, customers will always remember physical experiences much more than digital experiences, partly because of all of the senses involved,” says Mike Donnelly of Coldwell Banker Commercial DuFour Realty.
In other words, think about the message that your brand wants to convey to your customers. Then, build and create a space that will help you transmit that message in the best possible way.
The digital space is there for your customers’ convenience – the physical space is there for their experience. As a brand, your duty is to add value to your customers’ lives in new and relevant ways. While it’s true that there is no match for the convenience of online shopping, it will never compare to the rich experience of being in a physical space.