Is there a future for brick-and-mortar retailers?
E-commerce is a big threat to physical stores. The brick-and-mortar retailers are losing market share to webshops every year. The percentage of online shopping increased from 5% in 2007 to 9% in 2012 in the United States (Economist, 2012).
I think most retailers don’t invest enough effort in building a relationship with their customers. The main things that allow brick-and-mortar retailers to differentiate from online retailers is service and the shopping experience (Trafsys, 2015). So brick-and-mortar retailers should focus more on those things, such as expensive clothes and gadgets, that customers will want to try before they buy them. With these products the price isn’t the most important thing. More important is that there is a good relationship with the customers. A good relationship with the customers will also prevent against showrooming. Showrooming is that shoppers try products in physical stores before they buy them online for a cheaper price (Economist, 2012). This is a really big problem for physical stores who sell consumer electronics. Many people can acknowledge that they tried a laptop or mobile phone in a store before buying it online for a lower price.
So brick-and-mortar retailers should deliver a better service or shopping experience to compensate the higher price. In my opinion, the Apple store is one of the few physical stores in the Netherlands that deliver something extra. I bought my Mac Book in the Apple store The Hague last month. I didn’t buy it online because I like the experience of an Apple store and prefer the service of the physical store. Especially with these kind of prices, it gives a better feeling that you can go to a store when there is something wrong with your product. In conclusion, I think that brick-and-mortar retailers should focus more on service and shopping experience, instead of trying to compete with the low prices of online shops.
Trafsys.com, (2015). Trend report: Why Personalized Retail Is the Future of Brick-and-Mortar Stores [online] Available at: http://www.trafsys.com/trend-report-why-personalized-retail-is-the-future-of-brick-and-mortar-stores/ [Accessed 30 Sep. 2015].
The Economist, (2012). Clicks and bricks. [online] Available at: http://www.economist.com/node/21548241 [Accessed 20 Sep. 2015].