Believe Retail is Dead? Think Again!

Many new and up-and-coming brands make quick (and potentially damaging) decisions to enter the retail market by selling exclusively online.

Naturally, for people who find they’re too busy or simply dislike shopping, the ability to purchase online has represented a welcome change.  Notwithstanding the continuing popularity of Amazon Prime’s two-day shipping option, manufacturers might be surprised to discover that physical retail isn’t just alive; as an industry, it continues to thrive.

Despite the widespread popularity of e-commerce, online sales simply cannot compare to the amount of foot traffic seen in retail stores—and with it, companies’ resulting revenues.

Here’s a few reasons why:

  • Many folks prefer to see and interact with a product in person before they buy.
  • If an item is needed immediately, picking it up at a store is still your fastest option.
  • Once in a store, a customer is more likely to buy having ‘invested’ the time/money to get there.
  • Browsing is part of a broader experience—viewing seasonal displays, trying samples, and comparing physical products—can even be considered a pastime.

We’ve all likely gotten sucked into the scrolling spiral of an e-commerce website. 50 kinds of ladders. Hundreds of cookware brands. Thousands of baby products. Countless styles of winter boots. Conduct a basic search for “hangers” on Amazon, for example, and it’ll turn up over 200,000 options, not to mention the 549,000,000 results for the same search on Google.

We’re confronted with so many choices that it often results in analysis paralysis and decision fatigue.

There are multiple ways to “spend less time agonizing and more time enjoying,” as one New York Times blogger put it. Buying routine necessities is an approach that frees up mental bandwidth for bigger (and likely more important) purchasing decisions. For those, you might scour some online reviews—knowing that in many cases, those writing them have been incentivized/paid to do so—and then head to the store to see how a product looks and feels. You may wish to know just how soft the high thread-count sheets are, how sturdy a tool set your budget can buy, or how toys’ packaging, color schemes and accessories might appeal to the children in your life.

For those who guide their decisions using statistics, a recent study conducted by Digital Commerce 360 shows that last year, retail sales online only accounted for 14.3% of all retail purchases.

It’s true that brick-and-mortar retail has changed dramatically in the past two decades: competition has increased, mainstay companies have struggled, and failing brands have closed down locations or have gone out of business altogether. That said, those remaining in the industry continue to occupy the lion’s share of all that we purchase in North America.

Does your company sell a product? As you consider where to invest your time and energy in promoting your brand and product lines, think hard about combining the benefits of online and physical channels to strategically grow your business. If you want to scale your business in both online retail and physical retail, contact Gil Taran on our team at gtaran@retailbound.com