Brick and Mortar Still Matter

Despite all the warnings of a retail apocalypse and store closures, not everyone wants to shop solely online. Bizfeel found that while 57 percent of consumers enjoy shopping online, 31 percent still prefer to go to a physical shop.

In many respects, brick and mortar retail still matters and will continue to do so for years to come. Here’s why.

Online can’t deliver on all customer expectations.

Bizfeel also noted that more than 50 percent of consumers said that online shopping has its drawbacks because they could not touch and try a product before buying it.

Plus, there is less of an experience when shopping online that adds to the overall satisfaction, including missing the immediate gratification of getting the product as soon as it’s bought. An in-store experience also doesn’t involve the risk of product damage, fraud and scams, or delay in delivery.

Brand expansion happens faster through a physical store interaction.

Online brands are still looking to establish a physical presence because they see this channel as a way to build their brand with certain demographics that may still be focusing on physical stores. In one study, it was found that 90 percent of retail sales in North America are still through in-store retail.

These online brands have noted that they can engage with their customers in a more memorable way through a store or even a kiosk or a pop-up location. Even retail giants like Amazon have been experimenting with physical stores plus have invested in physical retail chains like its purchase of Whole Foods.

The pop-up concept stands out.

Pop-up shops are popular, appearing at local outdoor shopping centers within empty retail space as well as set-up outdoors or on urban streets. They are even appearing within well-known department stores. If you have ever seen a pop-up shop, then you’ve also viewed the long lines and crowds that flock to this temporary brick-and-mortar establishment.

This retail format has grown rapidly over the last few years due, in part, for the ability of online retailers to dip their toes into the offline retail environment. Consumers like the newness and exclusivity feel of being the first to try a new brand or product, while brands get to reach potential customers in a fun, memorable, and relatively low-cost way. 

Brands are also using these formats to go beyond selling and leverage the spaces to connect with their audiences on a lifestyle level. For example, Vans opened a space in London for concerts and events and social engagement, while Ministry of Supply offers a co-working space for customers in its stores that have free printers, phone chargers, WiFi, and refreshments.

These experiences have even garnered their own marketing moniker. Known as experiential marketing, these physical spaces are a way to connect with your audience on an individual and personalized level that online channels can’t provide. These physical retail experiences serve as complements to your digital efforts, helping to develop an emotive bond with prospects and customers.

New service delivery methods keep offline retail in the game.

Consumers are realizing the best of both retail channels by using on-demand options to shop and buy online and then pick up in stores at their convenience. Also, they are enjoying alternative service delivery methods by partnering with companies like Instacart, Postmates, and Shipt to have others do their in-store shopping and then get the same-day delivery option to their home or office. In this way, brick-and-mortar locations are doubling as warehouse facilities for these service deliveries.

Address brick-and-mortar relevancy in your operation.

Whether you are an online retailer, offline retailer, or hybrid retailer, you need to continue pursuing some type of brick-and-mortar strategy. Here’s what you need to consider:

  • Your audience segments will guide your channel location, development, and investment as some generations and cultures prefer offline more than online while some split their time between both channels. Learn where they want to shop and why.
  • Incorporate technology where appropriate to enhance the retail experience for your customers, including the on-demand ordering and purchase options, in-store mobile information and coupons, and upgraded POS systems for alternative checkout methods with iPads and tablets for your employees.
  • As an online retailer, experiment with the pop-up format or kiosks that provide you with a temporary brick-and-mortar presence to engage directly with customers and add new ones. You’ll be able to give your customers the ability to touch and try products first, buying them at your temporary store or going back online to make the purchase. This also gives you an opportunity to enter different geographic markets to spread brand awareness and build trust quickly.

Stay connected to both worlds.

Brick and mortar matters more so than ever to assist with building trust, spreading brand awareness, and satisfying customer expectations about brand experiences. You’ll need to keep your options open across online and physical stores to address these trends and be ready to shift to one channel or remain present in both as these trends evolve.

Is it time for a new POS System?

Investing in technology is one of the biggest business decisions you’ll make. You want to ensure your business is benefiting from what’s available, but you don’t have the budget to buy every gadget that comes to market. For a retailer, this technology decision often hinges on when to upgrade the POS equipment.

Here are some things to consider that will help inform your decision about when it’s the right time to upgrade and choose the right POS system for your business.

If you have these pain points, then it’s time to upgrade before losing those sales.

Every retail operation experiences pain points that indicate their POS equipment might not be providing the same level of service and efficiency as needed. For example, your sales volume may be on the rise, but you notice there are glitches in payment processing. These glitches might include credit cards that inadvertently get declined even if there is nothing wrong with their account or processing takes much longer than normal.

Screen freezing, slow receipt printing, and other issues that affect uptime may cause customers to grow impatient and impact how they see the shopping experience with your retail brand.

If you are spending too much time on troubleshooting when you could be engaging your customers or working on other marketing strategies, it’s a sign you need to upgrade your POS hardware and software.

6 Ways Using Apps with Your POS System Streamlines Your Business

If you are concerned about security and data breaches, then it’s time to invest.

With so many data breaches and responsibility resting squarely on the shoulders of the retailers who experienced them, you may want to upgrade your POS equipment to minimize this risk. Older POS equipment may be more vulnerable to thieves and allow them to break in to your system.

However, new POS equipment has been enhanced with EMV security and other solutions like tokenization and P2PE (point to point encryption). This will reduce the risk of skimming, counterfeit cards, and various hacking measures.

If you are looking for ways to boost your customer loyalty and revenue, new POS equipment may be the answer.

The latest POS software can double as a marketing tool, offering a way to maintain a customer database to provide personalized deals, suggestions, and coupons. You could also use this additional feature to create a loyalty rewards program to boost sales and keep customers coming back to you. Another feature provides you with a way to expand your payment options, which can also attract and retain more customers because they appreciate you now accept mobile wallet payments or other type of alternative payment method.

If your customers always need to stand in line to check out, then you need to upgrade your POS processes now.

Think about the possibilities of a mobile POS (mPOS) solution that allows your cashiers to walk around your store and approach customers rather than shuffling them into a long line. Or, if you have wait staff, then you can give them a tablet to process payment right at the table rather than disappearing for what feels like forever to the restaurant guests. New POS equipment can allow you to do this, creating a more engaging, positive experience for them.

If you can’t process chip card payments, then get a new POS ASAP.

Most banks have issued new chip-enabled debit and credit cards by now, so it can be a real revenue killer if you can’t process secure transactions because your card reader doesn’t offer the functionality. Minimize your fraud risk and protect your customers’ card data by upgrading to a POS system that offers EMV processing.

If you are having inventory tracking issues, that’s another sign that it’s time to upgrade that POS equipment.

Does your inventory tracking not seem as accurate as it once had? If you can’t reconcile the difference between what you should have in your inventory and what your POS system says you have available, it might be time to upgrade. A new POS system uses advanced technology to offer accurate real-time inventory management to improve your efficiency, costs, and customer satisfaction.  

POS Upgrading

Work with your payment processing partner to understand what type of POS upgrades are available and what these options can achieve for your business. If you have any of the above issues or pain points, then now is the time to act and add the technology solutions that add efficiency, enhance the service experience, and build customer loyalty.