Merging Clicks and Bricks

The battle between online retailers and retailers with brick and mortar locations raged on this holiday season. While experts predicted e-tailers would outpace physical stores, the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) reports that the opposite occurred. How does this impact both kinds of retailers as they plan for the future?

ICSC suggests that the old-fashioned solution to most problems applies here: Compromise. It is believed that the best of both worlds, an omni-channel presence, will win out in click versus brick wars.

The Shopping Centers Today article: Happy Multi-Channel Christmas, Says ICSC Survey (no longer online) reports that “physical stores drove sales this holiday season, according to an ICSC survey of 1,014 consumers.”

Why do consumers continue to shop at physical locations when online shopping is considered more convenient?Interior View Of Dubai Mall - World's Largest Shopping Mall

  • Consumers like to see and touch items, not just see pictures of them.
  • Trying on items prevents the inconvenience of returns.
  • Instant gratification drives consumers who do not want to wait for shipping.
  • Shoppers still like to browse.

While brick-and-mortar may have won out over the click-and-buy this holiday season, the retailers who provided e-tailer services were the big winners.

  • According to the survey, about one-third of the respondents used click-and-collect, purchasing the item online and then going to the store to pick it up in person. Consumers were assured their purchases would be in stock when arriving at the store and could avoid wasting time searching for sold-out items.
  • More than half of the respondents researched products either before heading out to shop or while in-store, price-shopping, confirming availability of products, and checking out ratings and reviews.

Brick-and-mortar stores are not the only ones who need to adapt. Online retailers are also being encouraged to create an omni-channel presence by opening physical locations.

  • Marketing and shipping costs drive down profits for pure e-tailers.
  • A physical location elevates brand awareness and decreases customer acquisition costs.
  • The click-and-collect option removes the barriers of shipping costs and shipping time and the inconvenience of returns. It also adds the benefit of add-on purchases while in-store to pick up products purchased online. Acording to the ICSC survey, 69% purchased additional items in-store when they collected their purchases, and 36% shopped in nearby stores.

This battle ends with a different kind of winner. Bricks aren’t crumbling and clicks aren’t disappearing. To survive in the retail world, merging the two worlds satisfies consumers, builds brands and breaks down barriers.

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