Compromise between online and offline commerce
Rapid development of modern technologies changes the way customers purchase goods and services. New easier and faster ways of commerce are introduced. “E-tail” - the new notion, which is becoming more and more widespread. It derives from “electronic retailing”. “E-tail” enables clients to buy all they need on the run, without queues or hassles of retailing stores. From the viewpoint of convenience, it is a huge leap forward. Still something very important is lost - human element.
When e-commerce only started to develop, many “prophets” said that offline retailing will become extinct. On the contrary currently there exists such a tendency - online customers leave the Net and go to offline shops.
Presently, brands strive and compete with each other to provide their clients with better services and wide range of possible ways of purchasing their production. Online commerce gives more benefits to clients in opposition to the offline retail. It is easy, available 24/7 and fast. Nevertheless, it offers totally impersonal way of providing services.
Bricks-and-mortar stores can also suffer from the lack of innovative trends in performing business. If you want to make your brand more successful, try to combine online and offline features in your business model.
Some of brands which are popular on the Internet, now open their offline retailing stores. Presence of all goods in offline, possibility to touch and explore everything you buy, makes the process of shopping more pleasant and enticing.
Different strategies are applicable to fulfill this task. One strategy is to create offline stores with tablets for buying goods online. This is very convenient for that situations, when consumers browse around the store for hours and end up by ordering all necessary stuff online. By emerging two areas of retail (virtual and real) you can mix up benefits of offline stores (its atmosphere) and virtual retail (its simplicity and convenience).
The pioneer of combining features of offline and online retailing was Apple Inc. Many other brands have followed this example. Such “enticing outlets” create the atmosphere of warmth and hospitality and strengthen loyalty of their customers. Clients seek not only for the possibility to purchase goods, they are in need of communication, new impressions and experience which they can't get in front of their laptops or via other gadgets. So to keep your sales at a high level, it is very efficient to distribute goods online and keep brick-and-mortar retailing stores to keep your brand appealing for customers.
Another strategy is great for offline businesses mostly. For instance, lets consider apparel industry. This area has rich opportunities for launching different innovations. Although the barriers for transferring all selling actions to the Internet seem to be rather high, more and more brands offer their goods online.
It is possible for online apparel retailers to track customer's purchases and analyze them. As you can analyze consumers' preferences, remember history of purchases and sizes of the clients, it is possible to offer customers automatically those “looks” which they are most likely to prefer. The ability to predict what your customer will prefer can jack up your sales, but on the other hand you cannot imagine the process of purchasing clothes without trying it on. So online-only model for garment industry is not very convenient. Therefore combining features of online and offline commerce in this area can be very profitable.
Except analyzing consumers preferences, apparel brands can make their customers even more loyal by offering services of a stylist. Stylists can provide advice on the choice of clothes and establish friendly and trust-based relations with customers.
There are ample ways which businesses can use to combine elements of online and offline commerce to improve their clients' shopping experience. The most important for brands is not to stick to one particular way of retailing, but to explore, experiment and innovate in running their business.