Over the past four decades technology has seeped into consumers daily routines: it started with home PCs and laptops, then evolved to phones, and now watches and smart home displays and speakers are taking center stage. Continuing advances in AI, wireless speeds & connectivity, plus a growing demand for companies to display transparency, sustainability, and social concerns have led retailers to research and invest in frictionless purchasing solutions. Meanwhile, hassle-free return policies are the rule given the shift to e-commerce and social shopping. The most forward-thinking retailers will blend those experiences into their physical store locations to create an omnichannel experience.
A recent 2019 Retail Trends Report published by G2 Crowd emphasized that e-commerce, online shopping in general, and an omnichannel strategy is the best approach for all retailers, especially traditional mom + pop shops and brick + mortar stores. Even though many of these retailers tend to be regional and are located in rural areas, they also need to research creating an online presence if they haven’t already done so—apparently 46% of American SMB retailers have not.
Quick Facts from the report:
G2 Crowd is predicting that over the next two years, the margin between e-commerce sales and in-store sales will increase by at least 5%.
Even with the increase in online shopping, the need for brick + mortar retail will most likely never go away. Retailers with a B+M presence—and who adopt an omnichannel approach—will benefit the most over the coming years. For smaller retailers in rural areas, the best way to start creating an online presence is through social channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest) and by creating an online store (which is becoming easier and easier through new platforms & payment services). Many retailers use an omnichannel approach to allow consumers to purchase online, but to pick up in-store, or to purchase in-store but have the item shipped home; this methodology should also extend to a retailer’s returns policy: buy online, but return in-store or vice versa.
It’s no secret that we are living in an online, always-connected world where more and more people are making online purchases through their phones and home displays. Retailers who don’t want to get left behind need to create an online presence and adopt an omnichannel approach for both in-store and online sales.