There have been many discussions about brick and mortar stores versus online commerce, pros and cons for each sales channel and what each sector should do to overtake the other.
In reality, the whole retail industry is transforming. Each business is evolving to meet customers’ expectations for a seamless, enjoyable shopping experience.
Long-established brands that acted exclusively as brick and mortar stores are now migrating towards online shops and marketplaces. Conversely, there are large online retailers that are expanding their businesses with physical stores.
Each channel, virtual or physical, has its own benefits. The choice is not necessarily between one or the other, but rather adapting systems to work within an omni-channel strategy.
eCommerce has reported a double-digit growth rate in recent years and analysts forecast that by 2019, at a global level, online commerce will account for over 12% of total retail sales. Even so, some customers will still enjoy going into brick and mortar shops to see, touch or try items.
Google search, marketplaces, social networks and mobile have changed how, where and when we discover and purchase products. Retailers must adapt if they want to keep customers loyal and expand their horizons.
By adopting an omni-channel strategy, retailers can reach prospective customers on all available shopping channels.
Marketplaces have become particularly appealing for brands wanting to build new sales channels. Of course, this transition requires time, specialist knowledge and resources - many brands still find this combination challenging.
On the bright side, technology is making this easier and ecommerce platforms like ours not only automates processes but also provides valuable analytics to better understand market trends and how your business is performing.
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Another reason marketplaces are growing is because launching an online brand has become increasingly difficult due to an overcrowded, competitive arena.
That’s why some ecommerce companies are looking to brick and mortar stores. They still provide a good opportunity to meet potential customers face to face, build trust and gain loyalty.
For example, despite Amazon being one of the largest marketplaces in the world, it has recently taken to opening physical bookstores and grocery stores.
Marketplaces allow companies to tap into global markets with minimal cost and risk. Marketplaces also act as an enticement for physical stores. When customers see something they like online, they might not want to wait for delivery and instead go straight to the store to ensure they get the right product or size immediately.
The two sales avenues are not in competition. If you want to grow, it’s time to evaluate your omni-channel strategy so new customers keep buying from you on desktop, mobile or simply by walking along the street.