Over the last two decades, the retail industry has experienced a significant shift toward online shopping. E-commerce has become a dominant force in the retail market as rising numbers of consumers prefer the convenience and ease of shopping online. As a result, traditional high-street retail businesses have faced increasing competition from online retailers.1
There’s no denying the strengths of online retail over brick-and-mortar stores. There’s lower operational costs associated with maintaining physical shops, staff costs, and utility bills. Having an online store also presents opportunities to reach a wider audience because of the added convenience and accessibility it provides for consumers. However, traditional high-street retailers still have advantages.
So what are the strengths of brick-and-mortar shops, and how can they be maximised to compete with digital competition?
A personal touch
Retail outlets, particularly independent retailers, can give customers a personal experience each time they visit the shop. You will typically understand any product issues and be able to offer advice or alternatives to counter any previous issues. It’s a unique opportunity to share your product knowledge and expertise directly with your customers.
Build trust and loyalty by offering excellent customer service that can’t be found online.
Take advantage of your physical presence
Whether your shop is located in the heart of a community or slightly off the beaten track, make your premises work for your business. Promote products in your shop window, and raise brand awareness with a recognisable logo and shop front that reflects your business and its personality.
High-street outlets allow your customers to browse and take advantage of impulse purchases. It’s fun, can make us happy, and enables us to purchase goods we may not have been aware of. Use your shop window to promote sales and entice shoppers inside to look around.
Utilise online opportunities to attract footfall
You may or may not offer online sales, but if you have an online presence, use it to promote your brick-and-mortar shop. Run promotions on your website and social media channels to encourage engagement with your business and attract new visitors in-store.
Local businesses generally source goods and supplies from within the area, supporting the local economy. There’s a common perception that online shopping is greener than visiting a physical store, but that’s not strictly true. Missed deliveries, single item purchases from different retailers and multiple returns significantly impact carbon footprint. A study in Germany showed that as many as one in three online purchases are returned.2
High street stores can showcase and deliver the best of local produce, which is good for the environment and supportive of local economies. If you source your products locally, and offer local deliveries, let your customers know. Establish a reputation of being the place to come for a particular product or service to attract customers in your local area.
These are just some of the ways high street shops can offer a better retail experience over e-commerce competitors. Still, it’s essential to focus on what makes your business unique, rather than simply trying to compete on the same playing field. Identify your points of strength and uniqueness, then leverage these as much as possible.
Of course, there are more significant costs and risks associated with physical retail. Protecting your business from the day-to-day risks it faces with business insurance for shops is essential. Get in touch today to find out more.