In recent years, we have witnessed a fascinating shift in the retail landscape (and one which was only exacerbated by the pandemic)! But we are now seeing online companies that once thrived in the digital realm venture into the physical world by opening brick-and-mortar stores. This surprising trend raises a crucial question: why would companies born in the digital age choose to establish a physical presence? In this post, we will delve into the motivations behind this strategic move and explore the advantages it brings to both businesses and consumers.
Enhancing the Customer Experience
While online shopping offers convenience and accessibility, it lacks the tactile experience of browsing physical products and engaging with them. By opening physical stores, online companies bridge this gap and create a more holistic shopping experience. Customers can touch, feel, and try on products, which builds trust and confidence in their purchases. Additionally, physical stores provide a platform for personalised customer service, enabling knowledgeable staff to offer guidance and recommendations tailored to individual preferences.
Building Brand Awareness and Credibility
For online-only businesses, establishing a physical presence helps to solidify their brand identity and increase visibility. By creating physical storefronts, companies become more tangible to customers, fostering a sense of trust and authenticity. Physical stores act as powerful marketing tools, showcasing products in a visually compelling manner and enabling brands to tell their story directly to consumers. This face-to-face interaction can leave a lasting impression and strengthen brand loyalty, thereby attracting new customers who might have been hesitant to shop solely online.
Showcasing Innovation and New Products
Physical stores provide a unique opportunity for online companies to showcase their latest products and technological innovations. While online platforms often struggle to convey the true value of new offerings, physical stores allow companies to demonstrate the features, quality, and functionality of their products firsthand. By providing hands-on experiences, companies can generate excitement and anticipation among customers, driving interest and sales.
Expanding Target Markets
Physical stores offer a distinct advantage in reaching new customer segments that may not be as digitally inclined. Some consumers prefer the traditional shopping experience, where they can physically examine products before making a purchase. By opening physical stores, online companies tap into these demographics and expand their reach beyond their existing online customer base. This diversification allows companies to unlock new revenue streams and gain a competitive edge in the market.
Seamless Omnichannel Integration
The convergence of online and offline retail experiences has given rise to the concept of "omnichannel" shopping. By combining physical and digital platforms, companies can provide a seamless shopping experience that caters to the diverse preferences of modern consumers. Opening physical stores allows online companies to create a cohesive omnichannel strategy, where customers can seamlessly transition between online browsing, in-store purchases, and vice versa. This integration enhances convenience, flexibility, and customer satisfaction.
Overall we are seeing more and more organisations move from online to physical stores. Earlier this year Rowen Homes opened their first physical store in Newcastles Metrocentre. Rowen Homes has amassed over 1.3m followers in 2 years with fans loving their instagram worthy products.
Vieve, online make-up brand founded by Jamie Genevieve has recently brought her range to physical stores both in Glasgow and London. The founder stated that she wanted people to see the products in ‘real life’, which is important when testing shades and textures.
Originating online Axel Arigato, now have stores in over six countries and the expansion shows no signs of slowing. The founders want their stores to feel like your walking into a gallery and not full of product. They use podiums to showcase products in the centre, digital screens, splashes of colour leaving consumers wondering if it is actually a showroom or store. (See our showrooming blog here)
Not content with dominating online, Amazon now have over 48 stores worldwide. Starting as a bookstore and moving into electronics, groceries and more recently, wait for it, a hair salon. Amazon seamlessly blends their online experience into their stores with the use of checkout free technology, palm scanning and star review ratings displayed on their shelves.
The decision by online companies opening physical stores marks an evolution in the retail landscape. By blending the benefits of online convenience with the immersive experiences of physical shopping, these companies strive to provide a holistic and memorable customer journey. As the retail landscape continues to evolve, the symbiotic relationship between online and offline retail will likely become the new norm, offering customers the best of both worlds.