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The decline in brick and mortar sales in a digital world

Updated: Aug 24, 2023

As the way consumers shop continues to evolve, it is hard not to notice the shift towards e-commerce. The digitalization of the retail world is not a new phenomenon - the pandemic only amplified the steady flow of converts to online shopping, which has been witnessing a rise for the last decade. Brick and mortar - a term used to describe a retailer's physical space, is the traditional facet of a brands retail domain. E-commerce has dominated the retail industry of late, and brands are having to adopt multi-channel business strategies to stay competitive.

Brick and mortar sales need to adapt their business strategies in order to navigate the digital world. As consumer behavior continues to shift towards the digital realm, retailers will have to adjust to meet their needs and personalize the customer experience. This is not to say physical retail stores are becoming redundant, but it is important to recognize the need to incorporate the benefits of omni-channel shopping into the buyer's journey. Online shopping has yielded an unprecedented amount of autonomy to the consumer, who is able to curate their own retail experience without having to leave the house. Navigating this can be overwhelming to many - and without the help of sales associates it is difficult for brands to actively engage with customers and build relationships.

E-commerce presents an attractive opportunity for retailers and consumers alike, who can access the world of online shopping at their fingertips. This switch has presented traditional brick and mortar sales with certain obstacles. On the retailer’s end, in-store locations can prove expensive and challenging, a problem that the online store does not face. Online shoppers can rest assured in the knowledge that they are avoiding line-ups, and have a range of readily available sizes and products to choose from, all from the comfort of their own home. The opportunity cost is less attractive than the cheaper, more innovative option that e-commerce provides. This is not to say that physical stores don’t have their benefits. Online shopping does not provide the in-store benefits customers desire - the ability to see, try on, touch products. Personalized shopping experiences are lost in the big expanse of online retailers, and a tailored experience you receive in-store from knowledgeable sales advisors is often absent online.

"The age of touchscreens and smartphones has left customers yearning for technology and tech- powered quality-of-life improvements. And this is readily apparent in the world of retail, where great new retail technologies are being designed all the time.” - Craig Bambrick, Red Iron

Often, in order to stay competitive and relevant, brands must adopt a digital marketplace. Online and in-person shopping should be a collaboration that combines to meet the consumers needs in the most engaging and effective way. A shift in retail culture is needed, with sales associates incentivized across omnichannel platforms. E-commerce continues to drive consumer experience towards a digital landscape, but the focus should remain on how retailers can leverage their resources to meet the needs of the consumer. Companies that manage a physical retail space will be required to find new, innovative ways to engage consumers. Consumer demands are dictating the incorporation of certain digital features and the use of personalized technology and human input in devising persuasive new experiences. Perhaps the future is hybrid after all.

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