It’s the end of 2018 and the retail environment is hardly recognizable from even 5 years ago. Amazon now has drones and digital front door locks to deliver packages safely and out of the lurking eye of package thieves without you having to step foot in a mall or retail store. But how did we get here? When did the shift happen and what does it mean for B2C retailers with brick-and-mortar locations?
In 2017, the number of national retail brick-and-mortar chain closings was 2,770. People simply aren’t shopping the way they used to anymore. The line that wrapped around the block and had people camping out in tents just a few years ago has turned into a digital line so people can skip the urban camping and wait on their couch.
As technology weaves its way more and more into our daily lives, the way we think about shopping is evolving along with it. We essentially don’t have to leave our homes for anything, and that means that retailers and their physical locations are turning into ghost towns.
eCommerce is an incredibly empowering way for retailers to avoid the huge overhead of a physical location, in addition to distribution and fulfillment, and reach their customers directly. This also allows for much more autonomy in terms of how and when they conduct business. An eCommerce store that is open 24/7 worldwide obviously has more potential to succeed than a staffed brick-and-mortar store—not to mention to savings to the customer with a lower overhead.
A recent article in Inc. mentioned that due to the increase in online stores, there is a fall in rent in some parts of the country, but that also doesn’t mean that a physical location is the best option for every business owner.
Regardless of the articles out there, site traffic and sales speak for themselves. You can cut costs (to yourself and the customer) by cutting out the middleman brick-and-mortar, and deliver to your customers directly and with assurance. Physical stores are disappearing and manufacturing businesses can survive and thrive by going direct to consumer.
The bottom line is that consumers want to shop online and that may mean that the retail that has been fueling the economy for the past hundreds of years is now on its last breath.
Benefits of eCommerce
Having an online presence is a game changer in our rapidly evolving world. There are many benefits to creating or increasing the volume of your eCommerce, but here are a few of the heavy hitters:
As mentioned above, a eCommerce store is open 24/7, 365 and typically ships worldwide. This creates a huge opportunity for a company to be making money and serving customers around the clock and around the world. This will also increase customer satisfaction, brand loyalty, and company culture that has the potential to be recognized in a big way. And if you’re worried about your business going under, taking your business online is a great option to keep the (digital) doors open. It’s a much smaller investment to open a store online and the potential to drive traffic to the store is much higher.
When your product is available on-demand from anywhere in the world, it opens doors for your loyal customers to get their “fix” while also encouraging potential customers to try your products. When a long-standing customer can place an order on-the-go and be certain that their product will arrive as expected, this encourages them to return to shop with you again and again and again. This also increases the potential that they talk about your product to their inner circle and on social media, exposing you to even more customers who have a higher potential of becoming extremely loyal as well.
When I think of brand culture I immediately think of Apple. Not only are their customers extremely loyal, but they’ve also created a culture around their products that consumers want to be a part of. When shopping online you know you’re going to get a clean, intuitive, and user friendly experience that will leave you feeling satisfied and like you’re part of a tribe. That’s exactly what eCommerce can do across the board, and what we can help you achieve at Vitals Agency. Having an online presence is an opportunity to invite everyone to the rad party you’re throwing … 24/7, 365.
Convenience and Customer Service
With 24/7 access to consumers, that will also bring up 24/7 questions and customer service inquiries. While you may see this as a hindrance, there are many third party companies that can manage customer service for you after business hours, or full time. You can also include a chat option that will connect a customer with a virtual customer service representative immediately, no matter what time of day. This extra fee of management will be easy to cover when you stop paying rent, utilities, staff, displays, etc at a costly location and focus your time on growing your online presence. This is a better option all around, but especially for the customer who can get an issue resolved in minutes, again increasing brand loyalty.
eCommerce is the Present and the Future
Whether you’re ready to pull the plug on your brick-and-mortar or want to try to breathe new life into it or skip the middleman altogether, taking your business online can never hurt. Experimenting with eCommerce is going to open a lot of doors for you and help you scale your business in ways you never imagined possible. If you’re curious about how we can help our at Vitals, let’s schedule a FREE 30 min call with one of our E-Commerce specialists and we can talk about your goals and design a bespoke process to make 2019 your biggest year yet.