Retails is changing! There is no better or worse way of putting it.
With every passing day, eCommerce is making their progress felt in more ways than one. How? Well, the ever-spreading use of mobile internet or more accurately mobile commerce has made it super-easy for the customers to enter a brick and mortar store, check out the product or products in question, check for the price of the same product in several eCommerce stores and place an order from the store that offers the maximum discount! All without leaving the eCommerce store and within just 5 mins of time!
So, does that mean brick and mortar stores are staring at a bleak future?
As per a recent study by Retaildive, 62% of buyers prefer to shop from a physical store because they can touch, feel and try out the products before making the purchase here. 49% says they prefer physical stores because they can take the product home immediately.
While both the reasons are pretty compelling and definitely here to stay, eCommerce with attractive pricing options, quick (and often free) delivery service and no-questions-asked return policies is gaining the market share rapidly!
So, what is the future of brick and mortar stores in Southeast Asia? There is no denying the fact that, traditional retail will have to change to remain profitable in the present retail climate. And some are already pioneering trends in Southeast Asia.
Here’s how brick and mortar stores can stay relevant and profitable in today’s ear of eCommerce:
Boundaries between online and offline commerce are blurring at a rapid speed; the world of retail is being concurred by omnichannel retail. In Southeast Asia, brands like Cdiscount and MatahariMall has already set trends by successfully venturing into online space. Another retail conglomerate Central group had previously stepped into online space, the group fostered their online presence by joining hands with JD.com who ventured into Southeast Asia in September this year.
This trend of offline retailers venturing into online space is likely to continue in future and is definitely a great move.
By creating a strong online presence, brick and mortar retailers can ensure that when a potential customer browses online to check out a product that is on display in a physical store, she ends up in the online store of the same retailer.
This will not only create a uniform shopping experience across channels but also help offline retailers in maximizing their profit.
Brick and Mortar Stores for Display, Online for Sales:
Well, brick and mortar shopping centers are not only a place where customers go to buy things, more often than not, they are important centers for social interactions. This is especially true for Southeast Asia where people often go to a mall to meet friends and have some fun time.
Thus, converting your brick and mortar store as a display destination where customers can check out the products and place orders can be a great idea. The Singapore Post Centre (SPC) shopping mall is the pioneer for this trend. The mall will let the customers browse through the products through online inventory. Once the customer places an order, the product gets delivered to their doorstep. By combining online and offline shopping effectively, SPC aims at offering the best of both online and offline shopping experiences to their customers.
As per experts everywhere, this type of order at store-receive at doorstep model is going to attract more and more retailers, both online and offline.
Engage the Customers Digitally:
Gone are the days when customers depended heavily on retailers for product information. Today, most customers look-up their available choices on the internet. Be it a high-value electrical gadget or some beauty product, clients today gather information and compare price on the internet, before making the purchase decision.
This is why it is vitally important to engage them online; no matter whether you are an eCommerce store or a brick and mortar store.
Answering consumers’ questions and engaging them in meaningful interactions are the key to attract the customers today.
In years to come more and more brick and mortar stores are going to realize this and work towards strengthening their online presence.
While offline retail is not going out of business anytime soon, the aggressive on-march of eCommerce will definitely have a deep influence on the industry. In coming years, one can expect more offline stores to venture into online space or join hands with online retailers to maximize their profit and keep the business going.