Chapter 1 Why (and How) Brick-and-Click Retailers are Finding Success
Why (and How) Brick-and-Click Retailers are Finding Success
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One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.”
This holds true in so many ways—especially when it comes to your business.
If I’ve learned anything about the retail industry, it’s that you have to be ready to adapt.
You must adapt to consumer trends, the economy, and even competition. You also have to be ready to adapt when a crisis arrives.
But, instead of cutting ties with your proven-successful, traditional commerce model, simply pair it with something new: an online store.
Many retail stores have taken the jump from IRL to URL —and the move has played a big role in the success of their companies.
Combining online and offline retail efforts in your business plan has the power to amplify reach and sales. Think of it as another stream of revenue for your existing stores—or a back-up plan if your customers are unable to purchase on a specific channel.
What Is Brick-and-Click?
Brick-and-click is a business model in which a company operates both an online store (the clicks) and physical store (the bricks), integrating the two into a single retail strategy.
Why Brick-and-Mortar Stores Are Moving Online
Depending on your business needs, there may be many different reasons to add an ecommerce layer to your business.
But before we dive into those, let’s look at the facts.
Offline sales are still the sharewinner when it comes to retail sales. More specifically, in-store sales are predicted to make up 74% of 2020 retail sales, with buy online pick up in store, or BOPIS, expected to make up 6%.
However, when you look at the trajectory of online shopping, it’s quite impressive and telling of the future of retail.
Currently, the U.S. does around $400 billion in online retail sales—and is expected to reach nearly $600 billion by 2024.
We’re talking about 10.4% growth by 2024. China follows close behind at 8.4% growth.
With steep growth projected to continue, there is no better time to enter the ecommerce world.
These supporting figures only lay the foundation for selling both online and offline. Here are a few added perks to a multichannel approach:
- Customers can see goods in person to assess quality and fit (with clothing), get advice from knowledgeable staff, and enjoy the shopping experience.
- Orders can be picked up at the store or delivered to customers’ homes according to their preference and on their schedule.
- Orders can be placed from mobile devices even without access to a PC.
- Customers have the option of in-person returns, reducing the business’ shipping costs.
- Major brick-and-mortar stores can utilize their existing logistics networks for their new ecommerce site.
The Benefits of Adding Ecommerce
There are many reasons why adding ecommerce to your business is a step in the right direction, depending on your industry, current challenges, or vision for your business.
Here are a few leading benefits to expanding your business online:
Entering the online space gives you answers to many burning questions about your business.
Your ecommerce platform can provide you with many different data points. It’s important you identify what KPIs make sense for your business. For example, product page views or time spent on your site.
Identifying specific metrics (with goal setting) will help you learn from these insights and make real-time changes to your store.
This data gives you direct insight into your customers’ experience. Keep in mind integrations with other ecommerce technology (e.g. your POS system) can also provide additional customer insights. By taking advantage of this real-time information, you’ll be able to build an experience that boosts brand loyalty and affinity.
2. Be where your customers are (+ reach new ones).
Any time. Any place. 24/7.
Ecommerce meets your customers where they are. Not only does this make it easier for them to do business with you, it also enables you to create a personalized experience.
In addition, by being available to all who roam the internet, your business will be exposed to more potential customers. Think about new ways you can tap into a demographic—maybe you’re finally ready to engage with Gen Z!
3. Get ahead of the game.
You read the numbers—ecommerce is growing, and it’s growing fast.
More growth also means more competition and, potentially, more saturated markets.
How will your business stand out? How will you make sure your brand isn’t left behind?
Here are a few ways you can optimize your online store to stay ahead of the competition:
- Focus on your search engine optimization (SEO),
- Grow your online presence (e.g., social media),
- Optimize your internal site search (seriously, customers who use internal site search typically convert 5-6x more),
- Create a FAQ page to answer any and all questions customers may have (e.g., return policy, sizing guide, etc.),
- Offer an email opt-in for access to a newsletter or rewards program, or
- Reduce the amount of steps in the checkout process and implement cart abandonment alerts.
Keep Inventory In Mind
Inventory management—a double edged sword, right?
While there are many benefits, this is also an integration you don’t want to mess up.
Integration of online and offline sales portals is, undoubtedly, the major challenge of successfully running a brick-and-click store. Inventory, in particular, must be kept in sync to prevent overselling or underselling. If a single inventory is drawn from, a non-available item could be accidentally sold, but if separate inventories are used, an available item could needlessly sit in stock.
In general, use of a single point-of-sale system (POS) for both online and offline components of the store is the best solution. It needs to be an automated, real-time system that syncs inventory across all channels to streamline and simplify accounting processes.
For more on POS integrations, head to chapter 3 of this guide.
Growing Your Channel Strategy
Delving into a brick-and-click business model can feel overwhelming. The online sphere has many channel opportunities—you may be wondering, “where do I even begin?”
Here are three channels to tap into at the start of your brick-and-click journey.
1. Social media.
There are plenty of social media platforms to choose from: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, Pinterest…the list goes on.
Identifying the right channel for your business will depend on your target audience. Remember, you want to be where your customers are. Which channel offers you the most reach to this audience?
2. Online marketplaces.
While your main focus for online sales should be on your own ecommerce store, many online retailers also expand their presence to online marketplaces.
What are online marketplaces? These are ecommerce sites that offer many different products from many different sellers. Chances are you do business with them frequently as a consumer.
Here are a few of the most popular ones:
- Alibaba.com, and
- Google Express.
If you decide to expand your business to an online marketplace, focus on the ones that make the most sense for your brand. This will vary from business to business and depend on factors such as marketplace fees, requirements, and top-performing categories.
Of course, as your business scales across multiple marketplaces, it’s worth exploring your opportunities with inventory management software. Such a system will automatically synchronize your stock levels and in turn remove the risk of overselling and underselling.
3. Comparison shopping engines.
Customers are not shy to do their own research when looking to purchase a specific product.
This is why being informed about comparison shopping engines is essential.
Comparison shopping engines are websites that enable customers to search for a product and compare its quality, price, and shipping rate at multiple competing online retailers.
Popular websites include:
- Shopzilla, with over 100 million products and 40 million monthly visitors.
- Shopping.com, which is owned by eBay, and
- Google Shopping, which is integrated into Google Ads.
To have your products posted on one of these websites, you’ll have to check the requirements of each option. You can expect to:
- Pay specific fees,
- Submit the required, quality product content (e.g., descriptions, images), and
- List your own products.
Examples of Successful Brick-and-Click Merchants
Need some inspiration? These merchants have successfully made the shift to selling online and offline.
1. Lammes Candies
A legacy Austin, Texas, candy company with five brick-and-mortar locations—now accompanied by a booming online business.
With an increasing number of candy companies entering the market and competition on the rise, having a modern, robust ecommerce website was essential. The Lammes team sought out to create an online presence that was both relevant, authentic, and true to their brand.
Listen to Lauren Cevallos, Ecommerce and Mail Order Manager, talk about their transition to powering a successful ecommerce store with BigCommerce.
TYLER’S began in 1978 in Tyler, Texas, as a store specializing in tennis and running gear.
Since then, TYLER’S has grown to become a leading specialty retailer selling apparel, footwear, and accessories across its nine locations in Texas.
When they made the move online, TYLER’S worked to enhance their customer experience with easier retargeting on Facebook and Instagram, improved navigation and on-site search, email marketing capabilities, and fraud protection.
Brick-and-click retailers are finding success as online sales gain more share of sales, year after year.
To set your business up for success, welcome a brick-and-click strategy. As discussed in this chapter, by implementing this strategy, you’ll find:
- A more personalized customer experience,
- Increased reach,
- Added convenience, and
- A competitive edge in a saturated market.
In the next chapter, we’ll dive into how you can get started selling online.
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