The Online vs. Bricks and Mortar Debate: Where do Smaller Stores Stand?

store1In the retail world, online shopping and bricks and mortar shopping are usually viewed as diametrically opposed – an either/or proposition. And with this perception comes the often accepted myth that online is slowly but surely taking over. However, it is far more complicated than that, the myth largely based on assumption rather than fact.

A recent survey for UPS on how large a role mobile plays followed that same assumption – that shoppers preferred online shopping. The survey did find that that role is significant – and consumers want more advanced features, flexible shipping options, and hassle-free returns.

That being said, the survey findings said far more than that. Although mobile is growing, bricks and mortar stores have not lost their importance.

It seems as though the relationship is far more intertwined. Both online and bricks and mortar benefit from one another: “When purchasing online from a retailer that also has a physical store, 39% of consumers who make returns prefer to ship the product back while the overwhelming majority – 61% – prefer to return the item to the store. When they go to the store to make that return, 70% said they purchase an additional item.”

You can read more about the report here:

Add to this fact that some previously online-only stores are opening up physical locations and the complexities are even more visible.

Great, so major retailers are still holding their own against the online onslaught – evidently online shopping isn’t taking over as some believe. But where do smaller stores stand? Are mom and pop shops getting wiped out?

Again, the same seems to be true for mom and pop shops – they have not lost their relevance. Although facing more competition thanks to the growth of online shopping, consumers loyal to these stores remain so. It does mean that your strategy needs to meet this competition head-on, with marketing and merchandising methods that can help beat it.

For brands specifically there are other implications. If located in a mom and pop shop, or really any bricks and mortar location, you need to be sure that you are meeting the needs of your customers on a consistent basis, and retail audits can help you better determine what is working, what is not, and how to implement a plan to fix any issues.

Whether you are a smaller retailer dealing with online competition or a brand located at retail, Marketsupport has the tools to help you succeed. Call us today at 1-877-421-5081.


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