The image of shop-filled streets is ingrained in the minds of many. During special occasions and holidays, we often visualize light-filled streets filled with merry people enjoying themselves, shopping for food or gifts. However, as we enter the second decade of the 21st century, this mental image is fast becoming passe.
The world has evolved considerably, with many factors contributing to the rapid changes. Let’s take a look at what truly happened and where brick-and-mortar shops are heading.
The arrival of the internet in the global realm in 1991 wasn’t exactly met with much public fanfare. Many saw it as a fad, exclusive to technology enthusiasts, and that it won’t play a significant role in society. Fast forward to today, visualizing a world without the internet is very difficult. It has brought upon a whole slew of conveniences that’s been utilized to its absolute efficiency that the world simply won’t be able to function without them.
Specifically, the innovations within the field of financial technology and web development have allowed businesses to not need a physical store anymore. Efficient payment methods, real-time tracking of deliveries, and many other innovations comprise modern businesses. E-commerce has become a formidable force in world commerce, to the point that most prefer online transactions to live and face-to-face transactions. So where does this leave brick-and-mortar businesses?
The Evolution of Brick and Mortar Businesses
There’s still a lot of benefits to owning a brick-and-mortar shop. There’s even merit to going about and renovating your space, like improving its interior design, putting up some good commercial-grade windows, and implementing both convenience and safety features. Of course, this is on top of the constant evolution and adaptation physical stores are currently going under. With the unforeseen changes happening all over the world, physical shops are in an interesting situation. Let’s take a look at both the changes and how businesses are adapting.
Brick-and-mortar is not dead, it’s changing right before our eyes. From simple shops with quaint display windows, we are now shifting to digitizing retail. Online e-commerce websites, rewards apps, social media presence, and other online efforts of various businesses all result in what we now call click-and-mortar shops. This is important in making businesses flourish in the digital age where the majority of the population prefers the convenience of online shopping but still enjoys the physical location shopping experience.
Emphasis on Experience
When it comes to experience, many shops focus on a stellar customer service experience, and for good reason. Many shoppers appreciate good service, which is one of the top reasons why physical locations are still up and alive. Especially now that many people are going back outside and are eager to relive the experiences we couldn’t do during lockdown, training frontline staff on customer interaction is a must.
Apart from interactions with people, customers also want to positively interact with the spaces they go to. Many shops also work on creating a great ambiance, effective layout for maximum foot traffic, and of course, cleanliness. Enhancing sanitation and hygiene in shops, particularly on high-touch surfaces is a must, so you can give customers the confidence to enter and shop around.
Seeing the Product as It Is
Another way that retail shops take advantage of having both physical and virtual stores is the ability to give their customers a more holistic shopping experience. Shoppers expect to see on physical locations the actual products that they see online, and vice versa. The obvious benefit that physical has over digital is the ability to actually touch and interact with the products as they are.
The level of trust this develops cannot be replaced by the convenience of digital purchases, and while it sounds like a rather basic reason, it’s enough for many people to still prefer physical mediums versus digital ones.
Going Back to the Streets
Finally, with having been forced to stay at home and avoid going out, the desire to actually go out, socialize, and just be out and about is stronger than ever before. Businesses with physical locations are poised to take advantage of customer’s desire to go out and get back to traditional shopping. As the world begins to open up, this desire will become stronger, considerably stronger than the already significant statistics that show people want to go back outside.
E-commerce is not exactly new, but we’ve yet to utilize it to its full potential. In the same vein, physical stores are not dead or dying either. Businesses just have to integrate digital tools in their analog ways, so they can remain competitive in the retail industry.