We’re becoming more and more immersed in a digital world. For instance, it would probably take you by surprise to meet someone who doesn’t carry a smartphone. Or people who’ve yet to be introduced to a computer and the internet. We’re enjoying the luxuries of a technologically advanced world in both our personal lives and our businesses.
Particularly, eCommerce has inserted itself into most of our lives as a way to purchase some of our favorite products and services. You can learn about a product, explore the business offering it, and make a purchase all from the comfort of your own home. Still, this accessibility and comfort aren’t enough to pull customers away from brick-and-mortar businesses entirely.
One of the main things people miss when purchasing from an eCommerce business is seeing and touching a product before buying it. At the same time, many consumers with some of their favorite brick-and-mortar stores offered the convenience eCommerce does. So, companies are now experimenting with merging these two strategies.
Before diving into the benefits of merging eCommerce and brick-and-mortar strategies, let’s talk a bit more about the relationship between the two.
The Relationship Between E-commerce and Brick-and-Mortar
Despite what many people think, eCommerce isn’t pushing out brick-and-mortar businesses. The rise in technology, and recently, the COVID-19 pandemic, prompted many companies to take their operations online. And although business is booming for many, customers remain loyal to their in-store experiences in some capacity.
Because of this, companies are making the intelligent decision to merge their eCommerce and brick-and-mortar strategies rather than seeing them as competitors. Also, most people aren’t solely eCommerce shoppers or exclusively in-store shoppers. They’re both.
So, more and more business owners today are merging their eCommerce and brick-and-mortar business strategies to design a complete customer experience with their brands with an omnichannel buying experience.
Furthermore, many customers start their research online and complete their purchases in-store or vice versa. Merging brick and mortar strategies with eCommerce ones enables customers to do this more seamlessly. They’re more likely to stay in their buyer’s journey with a business because of the consistency across multiple touchpoints with a brand.
All in all, the future of business encourages your eCommerce and brick-and-mortar strategies to complement and supplement one another rather than axing one for the other. Of course, there are considerable benefits to doing both, but they must be done with a solid strategy. Let’s explore some of those benefits in depth below.
Seven Benefits of Merging E-Commerce and Brick-and-Mortar Strategies
As stated above, the relationship between eCommerce and brick-and-mortar strategies has grown beyond competing for customers. Instead, they’re being made to work together, so customers don’t have to choose.
This union presents many benefits for your business if you can find the right balance in your strategy. Here are seven of those benefits below.
Create a consistent brand experience
One of the main benefits of merging eCommerce with brick-and-mortar strategies is creating a consistent brand experience. In other words, you can connect your online presence with your offline presence to encourage consumers to purchase with your brand.
For example, a potential customer may have their first interaction with your brand on social media. That may then prompt them to visit your website and explore your products. As awesome as they look online, this customer wants to experience them in person. When they walk into your store, they immediately recognize your logo and brand elements throughout the store, connecting their online experience with your brand with their in-store experience.
It all comes full-circle for them, and that’s what you want for all of your customers. Merging these two strategies challenges you to prioritize consistency. It lets you ensure consumers have a pleasant brand experience no matter where they engage with your brand.
Merging eCommerce with brick-and-mortar strategies also helps you reach more of your audience.
Reach more of your audience
We briefly mentioned that most of your target audience is both online and in-store shoppers. Therefore, when you provide only one avenue to shop with you, you usually will only attract those shoppers that like that particular shopping method.
In other words, people who enjoy shopping online and in-store are drawn to businesses that offer both options, not one or the other. Merging your eCommerce and brick-and-mortar strategies allows you to connect with the majority of your target audience that likes to do both. In reaching more of your target audience, you could also merge your strategies to focus on retention.
Focus on retention
How many times have you gone to a store, purchased a product, and never heard from that store again until you walked in their doors again? Or better yet, how many times have those sort of meaningless interactions stopped you from shopping at a store in the future? Although many people will be one-time purchasers, others want to continue the relationship beyond the transaction.
There’s a reason cashiers are eager to get your email address at some point when checking you out. It allows them to continue their relationship with you once you leave their store. They know that they’ve got an opportunity to retain you as a customer.
For instance, many companies have set up email marketing campaigns to retain in-store customers and introduce their eCommerce shopping experience. They send you discounts, personalized shopping suggestions, and other marketing material that encourages you to revisit them or shop with them online.
Another benefit of merging eCommerce with brick-and-mortar strategies is the ability to accelerate the customer service process.
Accelerate the customer service process
Customer service is a critical component of solid customer relationships. When your customers have complaints or issues with your products, they want them resolved as quickly as possible. Merging eCommerce with brick-and-mortar strategies can accelerate your customer service process.
You can balance out the flood of customers who come through your doors trying to return or exchange a product by offering them a way to do so online. Additionally, many of your customers may not be able to return to your store in person for whatever reason. So, if they can only access customer service options in-store, they’ll lose money or value and likely won’t shop with your business again because of this inconvenience.
Furthermore, when a customer can access customer service online and get a resolution quickly, having an eCommerce store increases the chances of them putting that money right back into your business, especially if they can’t return to your store in person.
Merging eCommerce with brick-and-mortar strategies also keeps your physical business relevant.
Keep your physical business relevant
There are industries where eCommerce operations are beating out brick-and-mortar businesses. So much so that they’re closing their doors permanently. But, at the same time, combining eCommerce with brick-and-mortar strategies helps keep your physical business relevant.
Businesses realize that if their goal is to increase offline sales, they must engage with their online audience to encourage them to visit in person. For instance, your customer loyalty program could include more significant discounts for in-store shopping. Additionally, you could promote your in-store events on your eCommerce website. You could also encourage online shoppers to visit your store to see your latest remodel.
In keeping your physical business-relevant, complementing it with an eCommerce option can help your expansion efforts.
Expand your business
The success of your eCommerce operation may encourage you to expand your operation with a brick-and-mortar location or vice versa. But success in one avenue shouldn’t be the sole reason for expansion. Listen to your customers. If you’re getting consistent feedback about how they wish you had a store they could visit or an online store they could shop from, expanding your business with either may be a good fit.
Ultimately, you can expand your business online or open a physical store. Still, it must be to merge the two strategies so the two can work together seamlessly.
Additionally, expanding your business likely means the development of new products. Merging brick-and-mortar strategies with eCommerce can help you create solid product strategies as well.
Create better product strategies
A product strategy is centered on product goals and the step-by-step outline of how to achieve those product goals. In other words, it’s a company’s complete vision of a product from inception to release and beyond. Of course, a crucial part of that vision is deciding where that product will launch and how it will get to customers.
Some of your products will sell better online, and others will sell better in-store. If you’re thinking about merging eCommerce with a physical storefront, consider this. If you’ve already completed the merge, you can create product strategies that are tailored to where they’ll perform best.
We encourage you to do more research on the benefits of merging your eCommerce with brick-and-mortar strategies beyond this article, as there are many to consider.
Although it takes quite a bit of work and a consistent effort to run both an eCommerce operation and brick-and-mortar business, doing so can incite incredible business growth.
Use the above information as a start to making your merger a successful one.