Brick and Mortar vs. E-commerce

Online ShoppingIn-Store ShoppingWhile the battle still persists, e-commerce vs. brick and mortar, research shows that people, especially Millennials, still prefer to shop in stores rather than online. The challenge right now, for retailers, is to find ways to create engaging, social shopping experiences that keep consumers coming back.

The Preference

According to research from the Urban Land Institute, Millennials are a multi-channel consumer but the majority of them still shop in-store at least once a month. In fact, Millennials actually prefer to shop in-store and are more prone to visit retail stores that keep the shopping experience social and provide fresh new offerings. Columbia University’s School of Business found that nearly half of Millennials enjoy shopping while 37% even love to shop. While this is true, Millennials prefer an omni-channel experience. They love to visit stores and find shopping to be a form of entertainment, but they want their retailers to engage them on every channel.

Brick and Mortar Growth

Research shows that there is still a strong preference for brick and mortar stores across all generations. Take Apple for example. The tech giant is still putting much effort into making their Apple stores into great customer shopping experiences. In 2012 Apple opened 33 new retail stores and was forecasted to open the same number by the end of 2013. Likewise, another tech industry giant, Microsoft, announced earlier this year that it would be popping up “mini-stores” within 500 Best Buy retail locations. So what does this tell us? It tells us that consumers still prefer to shop in stores and even the largest technology retailers are taking notice.

Incorporating the Two Experiences

Conquering the checkout counter is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to overcoming issues like “showrooming” (the act of purchasing on a mobile device while browsing in-store). As much as Millennials enjoy the shopping experience, the experience of waiting in line is the most common point where a customer is lost.

Finding ways to engage customers at the checkout counter is one way to ensure that the sale remains in your store. How do you do that? Many major retailers like Walmart, Victoria’s Secret and Target engage customers using QR codes. By placing a QR code “jackpot” near the register counter and prompting customers to scan for their chance to win a certain discount off their order you can engage them in fun and exciting ways. Incorporating multimedia, such as video screens above the register that advertise different brands and products your store carries, is a fun and informative way to capture the consumers’ attention (and plug your brands) while they  wait.

So while e-commerce is still an ever-growing medium, brick and mortar stores aren’t going anywhere yet. As long as stores continue to engage their customers and offer fresh and new shopping experiences, brick and mortar will continue to give e-commerce a run for its money.

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