Ecommerce and Brick-and-mortar Retail Converge

While there might still be plenty of space for pure-play ecommerce companies, retailers with physical stores should look to expand online as customers stop seeing a distinction between purchasing online and at a shop. Increasingly, physical retail outlets are being changed into a type of brand-building media.

The U.S. retail sector grew 2 percent in the first quarter of 2013, based on trend-tracking firm, comScore. By comparison, online retailing in the U.S. climbed 13 percent to about $50 billion for the same quarter, effectively making ecommerce the fastest growing retail segment.

This form of information generally has online merchants happy at their prospects and store-based retailers concerned about trends like showrooming — where shoppers compare prices or even make purchases on a mobile device while standing at a physical store. (See “Showrooming Challenges Brick-and-Mortar Retailers.” ) But it might not be the case that the ecommerce and brick-and-mortar channels are somehow at odds, but instead that all of retailing has changed so significantly that, in a sense, there’s no true distinction between stations, at least in which the consumer is concerned.

If, in actuality, retail stations are somehow converging, it’s the traditional retailer that’s responsible for the most change. However, no merchant can go untouched.

Clients May See All Channels Just as Shopping

Consumers no longer find a distinction between offline and online shopping,” composed Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google’s senior vice president of advertisements and trade, in a recent whitepaper. “Whether it is searching on a laptop, browsing main street stores, or hanging out in the mall — it is all shopping.”

There’s absolutely no basic difference to the shopper if she looks at a product online and buys it in a store, or does the inverse viewing a product on a stand, simply to purchase it from her phone because it’s simply more convenient or, possibly, less expensive.

“When something can be economically shipped to anybody, anywhere, the question of where the sale takes place is quickly becoming moot,” compose Doug Stephens, a retail sector futurist and the creator of Retail Prophet, in a recent issue of Retail Environments magazine.

Convergence may mean that each and every store must compete with each other shop, irrespective of format. Ecommerce companies have recognized this, since from the start every online retailer has had to compete against big box stores and local specialty stores alike. But small or even midsize physical-store-based retailers who have enjoyed a sort of geographical monopoly are increasingly exposed to the net of retailers because of mobile devices and faster Internet connections.

Convergence can also affect how all retailers offer customer support and how brick-and-mortar retailers consider their physical locations.

Allergic Effects Client Service

Shoppers who see no distinction between ecommerce and offline buying might also have similar expectations for customer support in both channels.

For instance, shoppers in stores are accustomed to using an attentive clerk that they might talk to. In precisely the exact same manner, a shopper visiting an internet store may expect to have the ability to speak to an associate almost immediately via chat, phone, email, or perhaps social websites.

As yet another example, Google’s Ramaswamy wrote that contemporary shoppers often know as much as a shop’s salesperson about a given product or product class. Previously,”people came into shops with little to no understanding and relied upon a salesperson to advise them on what to purchase.”

By comparison,”today’s shoppers have become accustomed to doing their own research to find the most value from each dollar they invest, and to feel secure about the purchases they are making. With this power shift comes a excellent opportunity for retailers; people who use insights and tools from the net have the chance to close the gap between the clever online consumer as well as the offline merchant, and stick out in a competitive market,” Ramaswamy wrote.

To put it differently, Ramaswamy is suggesting that conventional retailers should post decent product information online so that they might continue to help inform shoppers.

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Convergence Impacts Branding

The convergence of electronic commerce — such as mobile — and in-store retailing can also significantly alter how brick-and-mortar retailers think about stock and branding, and the manner that primarily online retailers have a look at the advantages of having a physical place.

“In the long run,” composed Stephens,”sales of merchandise simply can not be the primary strategic purpose or metric for the [physical] store.”

“Until quite recently the principal purpose, form, and purpose of shops was to distribute goods. Shops were the principal and, oftentimes, the only means of availing supply of goods to a given market.”

Online shopping transformed that purpose. As a result of ecommerce and carriers such as FedEx, UPS, as well as the U.S. Postal Service, it’s almost easier to find a product in the ecommerce station than it’s from a shop, where a shopper must lug products around.

According to Stephens, this tendency can be viewed first hand in some brick-and-mortar retailers. “Some of the world’s biggest retailers are struggling with this jarring reality already,” Stephens wrote. “`Stack it high and watch it fly’ has turned into’Stack it low and hope it moves’ as big-box stores scramble to lower inventories in the face of declining sales.”

At exactly the exact same time, some major ecommerce companies are opening physical shops. For instance, online men’s clothing retailer Bonobos has begun to open physical shops.

Bonobos and other pure-play online retailers”realize that in order to’fully actualize’ their brands,” Stephens wrote,”they will need to animate a physical existence and visceral experience for their clients, to not move products but more seriously to move hearts and minds.”

Effectively, some online retailers are recognizing that they can expand their brands with real stores. For instance, online merchants that open a physical store often see an increase from Facebook fans from the geographical area around that shop. The physical shop, whatever it’s doing to the main point, is building the brand.

In short, since the offline and online shopping channels converge, pure-play ecommerce retailers might seem to open physical shops, and conventional stores should start to market online, if they haven’t already.

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4 Marketing Lessons from Launching a Brick-and-mortar Shop

Lessons learned from launching a brick-and-mortar retail shop may apply to online merchants, providing insights about boosting products, driving sales, and engaging shoppers.

On November 9 through 11, 2017, I helped open a brand new planetary retail shop. The grand opening event took only 3 times, but it was the culmination of several months of preparation and planning. Its achievement reminded me of some significant retail marketing lessons that apply not simply to physical stores but to ecommerce, also.

What follows are four advertising observations from this grand opening event for a retail chain’s 14th physical shop.

1. Some Products Don’t Sell Themselves

One of the often-cited benefits of brick-and-mortar retailing is that shoppers can take care of the products and feel that the substance. But during the grand opening, I was reminded that sometimes seeing a product in person is not enough to sell it. In actuality, ecommerce merchants could have an opportunity when it comes to selling relatively complex products.

Here’s an example. In the front of the new store there was a screen of winter boots. These boots featured the Vibram Arctic Grip sole, which is a brand new, engineered only that sticks to wet, slippery ice.

I had an chance to try out the Arctic Grip sole in a trade show in August. The Vibram people had a massive block of ice, which I walked with the Arctic Grip only strapped to the base of my Nike SD shoes. The experience was incredible. The Arctic Grip sole, which can be found on many brands of shoes, was amazing.

The writer trying the Arctic Grip only in a trade show in August 2017.

In the shop, however, winter boots armed with these high-end, sticky bottoms just seemed pricey. I heard a shopper ask her companion,”Why do these boots cost a lot?” I chased themshowed a video from when I attempted the Arctic Grip — it was on my mobile — and they purchased a pair. What had appeared expensive a minute earlier was suddenly worth every penny.

The difference hadn’t been seeing the boots in person, but with a person explain what made them special.

So this is the ecommerce chance: Online stores may include an Arctic Grip movie — in actuality, there’s one available on YouTube — which lets the shopper view the value. Online a company has an opportunity to give considerably more information than a shopper could find only walking past the boots at a physical store.

2. Live Streaming Drives Sales

To help promote shop 14’s grand opening, the merchant’s marketing agency scheduled several radio remotes. For every distant, a local station setup a 10-foot-by-10-foot pop-up tent on the front sidewalk and requested radio listeners to come by for an opportunity to win prizes and see the new shop.

Throughout the remote on Thursday afternoon, the announcer from a local country radio station had Curt, the shop manager, give her a tour of the new store on Facebook Live. A tech held an iPhone while Curt and the announcer walked around and chatted.

Nearly 400 people saw live, and several thousand people watched the video during the next 24 hours.

Within moments, a consumer called the shop and asked the team to maintain a stoneware bowl Curt had revealed during the movie. Website traffic for things Curt pointed out throughout the tour were up four days later.

Your ecommerce store can use Facebook Live for events, content, as well as products.

3. When You Give, You Get

Each morning of the grand opening, the first 50 shoppers through the door received a $10 gift card to the store and a $5 gift card to the Starbucks across the parking lot. Once inside they were offered pastries from a local bakery.

That may seem like a lot to give away because together the gift cards were worth $750. But these gift cards did three important items for the shop:

  • Made a sense of reciprocity,
  • Brought in 50 shoppers,
  • Generated sales.

Reciprocity is when your company does something nice or good to get a customer, and that customer feels a feeling of duty to do something nice back. Reciprocity is a strong. A few of the shoppers who had received a gift card created just a small purchase. But many others spent countless dollars. I watched one shopper apply his $10 gift card to some $899.99 power tool purchase.

For your ecommerce company, start looking for opportunities to make a feeling of reciprocity. When you give, you sometimes get.

4. Advertising Works

Throughout the grand opening event, the new store out sold the series’s 13 existing stores and its own site. As good as shop 14 is, it won’t be the provider’s top grossing store long duration, but it was for these 3 days.

A few of those sales might have been curious shoppers who wanted to find out what the new store was like. Nevertheless, the key driver of earnings was advertising.

This merchant invested heavily in advertisements across websites. The business placed advertisements on radio, tv, Pandora, Hulu, and YouTube. There were print advertisements, billboards, and mailers sent to thousands of speeches close to the shop. Waves have mails were sent, landing pages assembled, and electronic banner ads placed.

Advertising works. If your company needs traffic and sales, purchase an ad.

The Initial Steps in Adding Ecommerce into a Brick-and-mortar Shop

Brick-and-mortar retail companies are turning toward ecommerce to create earnings — online and click-and-collect. As they create this electronic transformation, these merchants will probably have questions regarding ecommerce platforms, topics, and layout. While most of them are significant, a organization’s first focus must be on marketing and products, in my experience.

The action of merchandising and selling a product at a concrete shop is basically different than selling and promoting the identical merchandise on the internet.


Think about the benefits of bodily retailing. At a physical store, a shopper may take care of a product prior to purchasing it. He can, as an instance, get a fresh kitchen knife, feel its weight, and assess how it fits in his hands. In some shops, he could chop a couple of carrots prior to making the purchasing decision.

In the same way, a mom shopping for kids’ clothes can get the cloth and have her kid try on a costume or 2. For queries, a clerk isn’t far off.

A retail clerk may answer product questions in real time and on a private level. Photo: BBH Singapore.

What is more, a physical place could be its own type of promotion.

An art supply shop in a popular shopping centre may have tens of thousands of possible clients drive past it every single day. A few of those passersby will visit the shop’s sign for ages. When those people require a sketchbook and artwork pens for their children’s drawing course, the brick-and-mortar shop could come into mind.


Alternately, selling a kitchen knife, children’s clothes, sketchbooks, or anything on the web differs. Product images, product descriptions, and stock management are crucial for ecommerce but might be hard for brick-and-mortar companies selling online for your very first time.

Pictures. To market a product dangling on a hook in a physical store, a merchant only needs the merchandise and the hook. Online, though, a merchant needs a minumum of one photo to represent the merchandise.

A merchant can photograph every solution or, rather, get photos from the supplier or manufacturer. Both these jobs more time-consuming than that which one might envision.

At among Sur La Table’s physical shops, a shopper can take care of this knife prior to spending $399 to purchase it. But on the web, the knife has been represented with a picture.

It’s not unusual for a shop to get tens of thousands of SKUs and heaps of vendors. When it chose to obtain product photographs from these vendors, a retail company would require a person to get in touch with each vendor, access the pictures, download and arrange themperhaps edit themand upload them into the ecommerce website — replicated countless times.

However, a methodical approach might help.

  • Identify your company’s top-selling things and market them.
  • Devote the labour required to upload and download photographs.
  • Automate the procedure when possible.
  • If needed, use snapshots from mobile phones as placeholders.

Fantastic product photographs are more significant than a perfectly designed site when you are getting started.

Descriptions. Merchandise descriptions are much like product pictures: You do not need them at a physical shop and creating them for an ecommerce website is a bigger task than you might imagine.

Whether your business makes the decision to compose these or copy them by a producer — not replicate a item description without express consent, yet — the measures will be comparable to those for pictures.

  • Concentrate on the best-selling things .
  • Devote the labour into the Job, or outsource.
  • Automate the procedure if possible.
  • Publish goods without descriptions if needed.

Rental Administration. Envision a series with 15 physical shops. Each shop has one special espresso machine 15 company-wide.

If it comes to managing stock within an ecommerce platform, what would be the available amounts with this espresso machine?

If it intends to meet from each place, the corporation might presume 15 machines are readily available to market online. But this might be an issue.

Imagine if three shops had a wrong inventory count? Rather than having one server in stock, they had none. And suppose that two additional shops chucked the boxes since the espresso machines are on screen? Those shops would have no way to send them. And what if clients are purchasing the espresso machines in four other shops at the moment?

To make things worse, stock counts might be off by a whole lot if the series’s physical point-of-sale system does not automatically upgrade the ecommerce website.

The solution is dependent upon a merchant’s systems and capacities. But understanding that stock quantities can be an issue goes a ways toward a repair.


The above art supply shop resides in a popular shopping centre, has a real signal, also is known to tens of thousands of possible clients.

Nobody will observe the company, nevertheless, as it opens on line. A shopper could look for the shop by title on Google or even Bing, but there’s not any assurance that those search engines have indexed the new website yet.

So it is not sufficient to start an ecommerce store. Merchants have to promote and promote it. Marketing for a new ecommerce website must use a merchant’s traditional channels in addition to new ones, including video and pay-per-click advertisements.

By way of instance, a merchant must continue with radio advertisements but now incorporate the newest digital offering. Likewise a series should keep on inserting circulars from the local paper, however, again, today highlight online or click-and-collect services.

Marketing a new ecommerce shop is frequently more significant than the platform, the motif, and other layout components.

Imagine if 80,000 Brick-and-mortar Stores Closed?

A financial services company has predicted that 80,000 or more physical store locations in the USA are most likely to close in the next five decades, reducing the whole number of American retail outlets by approximately 10 percent.

But what does this mean?

Retail chains may be shuttering stores due to a changing market or too many shopping centers and strip malls.

There were plenty of retail bankruptcies in 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic played a part. Nevertheless, the retail sector has been evolving for ages. Just because a merchant closes a specific location doesn’t always imply that its business is failing or that there’s anything wrong with the business generally.

Again, retail might just be changing.

“We have even to scratch the surface of the transformation of the retail landscape,” said UBS analyst Michael Lasser in an April 6, 2021, interview with CNBC. UBS and Lasser consider that 80,000 shop closures are a baseline and the amount might be higher.

Better Stores

So how will that lots of shop closures impact the business? What if, as an instance, plenty of physical shops did close in the next five decades, but those that stayed were better? Imagine if the remaining 90 percent embodied omnichannel trade?

Is the range of physical retail locations the ideal dimension of the business’s health? Or could 10-percent fewer shops be useful if the remaining ones were improved?

Could having 10-percent fewer shops be a great thing if the remaining stores were really better? Photo: Arturo Rey.

“Post pandemic, brick-and-mortar will return, but in a new way that’s digital-first,” stated Raj De Datta, CEO of Bloomreach, a digital experience platform.

Retail ecommerce”has discussed multichannel and omnichannel for the previous five-plus decades. The idea was that we do not really care how our clients store, how they work with us, how they come to us. We just care about providing a fantastic experience and getting them to interact with [us]…and finally, [to] sell them our goods. And while that was a stated goal, it’s been the furthest thing from reality,” said De Datta, who was talking in a live event for CommerceCo by Practical Ecommerce.

Instead, retail businesses have kept in-store and ecommerce earnings on different financial statements. They have not incorporated leadership groups, and they haven’t delivered on the possible advantages omnichannel has promised.

The pandemic forced changes. During the lockdown, ecommerce boomed, doubling as a proportion of total retail sales, according to De Datta.

There might be fewer brick-and-mortar shops in the not too distant future, but they could provide a seamless and frictionless experience.

Fewer Stores, More Firms

What if 80,000 retail shops closed in the next five decades, but the total number of trade companies increased?

“Historically, retail has been around promoting other people’s products,” De Datta said. The companies”who have had a business model of selling other people’s goods, with no market and brands of their own, have begun to struggle with property footprints when you can purchase the identical product on Amazon or other online merchants.”

These businesses might represent a number of the shop closures UBS is calling. But they’re not the only retail version.

De Datta believes we are seeing substantial expansion in direct-to-consumer brands. Likewise retail merchandise subscriptions could be on the upswing. In each case, fewer physical shops may not mean fewer companies. This evolution could represent an important chance for ecommerce entrepreneurs.

Too Many Physical Stores

What if there are too many brick-and-mortar retail stores in the united states? In a specific state? Or at a given neighborhood? If this were the case, store closures are a”right-sizing.”

Take Walmart, for instance. The firm had $559.2 billion in earnings for its 2021 fiscal year, which ended on January 31, 2021. That earnings represented a 6.7-percent, $35 billion increase over the previous year.

In financial year 2020, Walmart’s earnings and operating income grew by $10 billion and $20 billion, respectively. The business grew, despite having slightly fewer shops .

Given Walmart’s gain, the net closure of just 13 places doesn’t suggest retail Armageddon.

By way of instance, in March 2021, Walmart closed its Supercenter in 71 Technology Drive in Irvine, Calif., since it had been”underperforming.” That location is only five and a half kilometers from the Walmart Supercenter in Foothill Ranch, Calif., a bit more than nine miles from the other Irvine Supercenter, and over 15 miles of six Walmart Supercenters.

The Walmart Supercenter in 1326 Bush River Road in Columbia, S.C., closed in February 2021 for its relatively poor financial performance, leaving another 10 Walmarts and Sam’s Clubs in the area.