With the popularity of online stores, you might wonder whether keeping your brick-and-mortar operation is worth it. Answer: it is. While many online stores are very successful, it’s not the only way to run a business. In fact, many stores like Apple, Best Buy, and Walmart all operate both online and offline stores – and all of them are successful.
Customer Still Love The Real Deal
One of the benefits of having a real store is that customers love being able to walk in and see the products before they buy them. There’s something about holding merchandise in your hand before you buy that makes the whole shopping experience seem more legitimate.
According to a recent study done by Ericsson ConsumerLab, 73 percent of people shopping online don’t like the online experience because they can’t touch or try the products before they buy. Thirty-nine percent say that they don’t like the online experience because they have to wait for shipping – they like that they can buy a product in a store and take it home with them right away.
Online Shopping Is Easy, But It’s Not Social
Online shopping is easy – which is what most people like about it. You don’t have to go to go out to shop online. But that’s a problem. Fifty-one percent of the people surveyed by Ericsson say they like browsing in the store. Thirty-one percent like hanging out with friends while shopping.
So, having a brick-and-mortar store is great for reasons that are inherently anti-online. Your physical store is a place where people can browse your wares, pick up and try out products, and shop with friends. Ironically, getting off the Internet seems to be a prerequisite to being more social when shopping.
Customers Can See A Real Human Being
Thirty-four percent say that they like the personal service they get when shopping in a real store. It’s easy to understand why. When you’re in a store, you might see a defective product, or you might have questions about how something works. You can always ask a salesperson or the manager. With an online store, you can email support – or possibly call – but it’s not the same.
If you receive a broken or defective item in the mail, you have to bother with returning it. It’s not impossible, but it’s a burden. With offline shopping, you can catch defective items before you pay for them.
There’s also the matter of knowing who you’re doing business with. If customers are allowed to come in to see you, you can get to know them. If there ever is a problem, they know who to come to. If you want to offer selective discounts to your best customers, you know how to do it.
With offline stores, there’s an element of relationship-building that’s just not possible with an online store. In the end, that may be enough to win out over free shipping.
Chelsea Miller is a website marketing consultant. Her articles mainly appear on website design blogs. Visit the Lenstore website to see how they reach out to their customer base.