The debate between retail stores and the online sector is still raging on, and the answer to the question “which is better” hasn’t been answered yet. There are certainly arguments for both, but in the age of convenience versus the seemingly old-fashioned personal approach to customer service, there appears to be a very equal divide between the two. A study has shown that 53 percent of customers prefer the physical experience to the computerized, so there is an edge over online consumers, but only just! The physical draw of a store has many attractive prospects, but the ecommerce stores are convenient. What does the retailer need to draw custom back into the real world instead of the online one?
The first, and arguably, most important factor of a retail outlet is its location. While the big draw for custom online is the amount of choice, it can be a bit of an onslaught when it comes to finding the right product, or the cheapest brand, and this is where a physical outlet can clean up. The location of a store, in the most central of places, will take in a lot of “foot traffic,” in other words, the proximity of people passing by the store. This is a big thing to generate more opportunities for browsing, which is something that is less likely to occur when shopping online, and when people shop online, there is a distinct lack of engagement between customer and brand. People shopping online are more likely to shop around more instead of making an impulse buy, which is why the bricks and mortar setting becomes a good choice for budding shop owners. If a customer sets into a store, they are more likely to purchase an item than they are by browsing a website. Location becomes the key generator for foot traffic, and as a budding business owner, you can look online for the right property.
There are websites where you can look for 1031 replacement property listings, and find the right location that suits your needs. The more central you can find a place to set up a retail business, the better, for obvious reasons. The other edge that retail outlets have is it personality. The relationships that customer service assistants can have with consumers are a big reason why physical stores do so well. The feel that a customer will get for a particular store is the driving force for return custom. People will return if they feel that they are being treated with respect, and this is the reason people will have an allegiance to a particular brand. If your store can create a unique customer experience, this will be the driving factor that gets people to come back and continue to buy. As with every customer in this situation, they will never remember what they bought, but how they felt when they bought it, and this is the core to a great customer experience in a physical store.
The ecommerce generation is a different breed of customer service. The start of many entrepreneurs journey into retail online is based on their experiences in the business world, and as a result, it can take a lot longer for ecommerce sites to get decent feedback from their customers. The benchmarks like Amazon have shown how long it takes for a site to become really proficient at ecommerce or to even make a profit. As for the perks for running a retail store, it has shown that the perks are, from the retailer’s side, those of ease. A thing like working from home has become a very popular approach to the modern worker now, but when it comes to achieving the most important opinions i.e. your customer’s feedback, it can take a lot longer for it to be implemented. In a retail setting, a customer can offer personal feedback with as much detail as possible, and it can be implemented with a relatively quick turnaround. Online, it can take a lot longer due to either lengthy communications or where the feedback is in the “pile” meaning that the email may not be seen for a long period of time. The online store is one for convenience, the people that browse it need to find something quick and they need it shipped the next day to arrive the day after. There is no time for idle talk, and this is a setup that is suitable for so many people. The modern worker is incredibly busy, and they need a service that reflects this.
The retail shop that people can wander into and browse are more than likely looking for advice and someone they can physically speak to so they can get a better understanding of the item they need. Lest we forget, there are so many people who do not place reliance on the internet, such as people over a certain age and technophobes. It seems to be easier to shut them out in the modern world, which doesn’t make for a very friendly brand or customer service approach. The difference in the retail setting when you compare it to an online store makes a massive difference. There are now stores that allow you to order online and pick up the item at the store, which gives you the right balance of online and an in-person relationship. The big thing about being personal in your approach to customers is based around the tangibility of items. Ordering food online means you don’t have a good idea of the quality or even the size of the item. All you have to go on is the image online, and this is something that physical retailers can capitalize on. Starting a business in retail is viewed as a thing of the past now, but as people would rather not speak to a robot! This is the prime time to get a core group of staff members together and build up a new approach to retail sales, one that combines the 24-hour accessibility of the internet with the personality of a real shop assistant.