Technology is already everywhere and is becoming a bigger part of our lives every day. More than 93 percent of American adults under 50 use the internet, and 77 percent of Americans own a smartphone. It’s no wonder that consumers believe online shopping is the future of retail, with 52 percent of global consumers shopping on Amazon..com. However, while brick-and-mortar retail may change, marketers, retailers and brands know it will still play a big role in our lives.
As online user activity continues to grow, brick-and-mortar retail can still translate that activity into offline purchases.
Our World Revolves Around Interactions
We live in a physical world, one that favors interactions and helpful advice. While there’s an ease-of-use factor to online shopping, 49 percent of consumers prefer shopping in-store for the instant gratification of being able to take home items immediately. Additionally, the ability to see, touch and feel products are strong reasons consumers choose to shop in stores vs. online. It’s more satisfying to try on that perfect pair of heels than it is to order them based on an online image.
Connecting Online Behavior With Offline Purchases
On the other hand, users continue to become more savvy in their research for products and services. While an initial, research-oriented search may begin in an online environment, if your brick-and-mortar location leverages its online presence effectively (organic search, paid media, social media, website content, and more), you can ultimately convert that researching consumer into a paying customer in-store.
One real-world example is Google, which has analyzed anonymized location data since 2014 to estimate store visits spurred by online ads, using a collection of Wi-Fi signal, location, mapping and calibration data. However, with omnichannel marketing continuing to prove buzzworthy, the search giant is turning to deep learning for further insights to account for more use cases.
Amazon Getting Physical
We all remember when Amazon opened its first physical bookstore in Seattle. One of the reasons Amazon did so is to tie together online and offline channels in a new way. By using the data it collects, Amazon was able to create a unique and personalized experience for its in-store shoppers through personal recommendations, cross-recommendations and discounts for being a Prime member.
With its recent acquisition of Whole Foods, Amazon has made a landscape-altering move in its bid to dominate the brick-and-mortar market and connect the online environment with offline store visits and purchases. While Amazon understands the power of online, it also knows that consumers want the chance to touch items in-store and interact with associates. In response to Amazon’s power move, Google recently moved to connect e-commerce with brick-and-mortar giants like Wal-Mart and Target in an effort to stay equally competitive for consumer attention and purchases.
Brick-and-Mortar Retail is Here to Stay
While online shopping is continuing to grow, consumers still want to keep having great experiences in the real world. Touch, feel and interactions play a large role in retail, and a personalized customer experience can go a long way to achieving that. Brick-and-mortar retail is here to stay, and it represents a huge opportunity for savvy retailers and marketers.
Alex Porter is the CEO of Location3, a digital marketing firm based in Denver.
Related story: How Retail is Becoming the New Digital Playground