By Niclas Qvist, Pricer
Since the rise of online shopping, it seems that everyone in the world of retail has been debating the future of traditional stores. Not only do offline stores have to weather a particularly long and brutal recession, but they also have to compete with an ever-expanding online sector. In fact, recent estimates suggest that while brick-and-mortar retailers are expected to grow 1% to 2% a year, online retail is growing at a rate of 10% annually. To counter this ‘threat,’ many main street shops have set up online stores – often with great success.
However, it is important to remember that 90% of retail sells through traditional stores. There will always be a place for physical stores, as consumers will always want to be able to touch, feel and see a product for themselves before buying. While operating a ‘multichannel’ environment in the form of having both a traditional and an online store certainly gives consumers more choice, retailers are increasingly asking themselves: “What is it that drives consumers to online stores, and how can we incorporate these features into our offline stores to create one, seamless customer experience?”
Understanding the benefits afforded to consumers who shop online is vital. In the past, shopping was a private experience – you did it by yourself. Now, thanks to the Internet, it has become far more social. Before purchasing anything, customers may access at least one review website, and look at other consumer feedback and advice. They share their shopping experience via social media such as Facebook, upload photos of their purchases to Instagram and ask their friends for input. What’s more, online stores are incredibly transparent and display a lot of information on each product – what it is made from, where it is made, and its availability. We are living in the information age – and shopping is no exception.
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