Despite the booming economy and a record holiday shopping season, 2017 was a tough year for traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, continuing the store-closing trend that has been dubbed the retail apocalypse. Over 300 retailers filed for bankruptcy last year, a 31 percent increase from 2016. Major brands including JCPenney, Macy’s, Kmart and Sears closed over 5,000 store locations. Another 1,000 locations are scheduled for the chopping block this year. Other brands facing trouble include Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap, and J. Crew.
While competition from ecommerce rivals such as Amazon is the underlying cause of the retail apocalypse, pronouncing the death of the brick-and-mortar store would be premature. In fact, ecommerce stores such as Amazon, Alibaba and JD.com are getting into the brick-and-mortar business, recognizing that physical stores have some advantages over their digital counterparts. Here are three ways that retailers can leverage these advantages to avoid becoming the next victim of the retail apocalypse.
Offer Click and Collect Online Shopping Options
One of the main draws of online shopping is convenience. Online shoppers can research products, compare prices and pay for merchandise from the comfort of their home computer or smartphone.
One way traditional retailers are successfully competing with this is by offering click and collect shopping options. Click and collect combines the benefits of online and traditional shopping by allowing customers to purchase products online and then come to a retail location to pick them up. This allows customers to receive products more quickly than if they had to wait for shipping from an online retailer.
For retailers, click and collect also has the advantage of encouraging impulse purchases when customers arrive at the store to pick up their products. Nearly seven out of ten holiday shoppers who buy through click and collect purchase additional items in-store while picking up their products, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers.
Offer Added Value for In-store Shoppers
While customers enjoy the convenience of shopping online, they also prefer to shop in stores. Seven out of ten Millennials prefer the in-store shopping experience, a CBRE survey found. A desire to see products, a demand for the instant gratification of immediate pick-up and enjoyment of shopping as a leisurely activity are some of the reasons shoppers prefer an in-store experience.
Retailers can leverage this preference by emphasizing these benefits and supplementing them with additional incentives geared toward in-store shoppers. One strategy retailers are finding effective is using mobile devices to make personalized offers to in-store shoppers. For instance, beacon marketing enables retailers to connect with in-store shoppers and extend offers that are customized based on their buying history or their location in the store.
Keep Pricing with Online Rivals Competitive
Competitive pricing is a crucial component of attracting customers away from online rivals. Over seven in ten consumers research products in-store before going online to search for a lower price, Forrester data shows. Offering competitive pricing and price-matching discounts can be a way for retailers to retain these shoppers.
In order for this strategy to work, it’s essential to keep prices up-to-date in relation to competitors’ current pricing. The best way to ensure competitive pricing is to deploy an effective ecommerce content management system. An ecommerce management system provides you with a single interface you can use to monitor and report on pricing across all of your retailers, ensuring that your brand presents a consistent pricing position online. It can also make your overall online marketing more efficient and attract in-store buyers by enabling ecommerce product page optimization.
Click and collect options, in-store offers and competitive online pricing are three ways retailers can stay competitive with ecommerce rivals. Implementing these strategies can help you attract more buyers and keep your company from becoming a victim of the retail apocalypse.