Brick & Mortar shopping was the only option for procuring goods and services for the majority of humanity’s existence. Want a loaf of bread? Head to the baker. Need some supplies for your horse drawn carriage? Head to the general store. You get the idea.
With the internet now fully integrated in many parts of the world, eCommerce has dominated metrics and headlines for several years. Yet with all the doom and gloom, in-store shopping remains. ECommerce is not going anywhere, but we believe brick & mortar must evolve to thrive.
Today, we will discuss some benefits and drawbacks of brick and mortar vs. eCommerce sales, identify the value brick and mortar still possesses for modern brands, how brands are evolving their brick and mortar strategies, and review what our masters of marketing have to say on the subject.
Brick and Mortar vs. eCommerce – Benefits and Drawbacks
There are some clear benefits to brick and mortar shopping. Yet the majority of millenials and gen Xers still prefer to shop online. Why the divide? Here are some pros and cons of brick and mortar and eCommerce shopping experiences.
Reasons Customers Prefer Brick and Mortar
- The experience. With all of the hoopla about convenience and time saving technology, we can forget that human beings do still crave real experiences.
- Immediate needs. Amazon might be fast, but they can never be I hand you money and you hand me the product fast.
- Cost reduction. Again, there is a common misconception that eCommerce is automatically cheaper. This is certainly not the case, particularly when considering shipping costs.
- In-person customer service. The amount of time the modern consumer has been put on hold or has waited for a service rep to return a chat request has driven many consumers to crave the old days of human customer service.
Reasons Customers Prefer eCommerce
- Convenience. Yes, it is extremely appealing to order six boxes of diapers at two in the morning after realizing you are about to run out.
- Easy product and price comparisons. ECommerce is unique in that the entire shopping world is at the customer’s fingertips to be viewed and compared. Even brick and mortar shoppers will often look up a product online before purchasing.
- Availability of products. The store can’t be out of stock if there is no store.
The good news for brick and mortar businesses is that they can adapt their marketing and business structure to allow for greater comparison, clarity, and convenience. Brick and mortar should embrace eCommerce tactics rather than fight against them.
The Value of Brick & Mortar for Brands
Branding is all about the customer experience. It conveys your brand message and your brand personality by giving your consumers an idea of what you stand for. Digital marketing and eCommerce allow brands to put forth plenty of content, but nothing quite compares to the physical experience of shopping in a store.
Consider a famous example: the Apple Store. Apple is the largest tech company in the world by nearly every metric. It dominates markets including software, mobile phones, tablets, and much more.
Despite being a tech juggernaut in a modern business world, Apple has committed to maintaining their brick and mortar stores.
Apple stores convey the brand and they provide their customers with invaluable services. Rather than pushing their products aggressively in store, the Apple store is more of a tech lounge with customer support. This concept might not work for every business, but it shows how powerful a brick and mortar presence can be.
Masters of Marketing Perspectives on Brick and Mortar
Of course, not all marketing experts agree on the value of brick and mortar. For every modern brand which embraces brick and mortar like Apple, there are plenty of up-and-coming juggernauts like Dollar Shave Club which will likely never open a storefront.
Here is what the masters of marketing have to say.
Why Brick & Mortar Stores are not Always Necessary
William Nowling, Managing Director & Partner at Lambert & Company, believes that brick and mortar stores are not necessary for all businesses. “For a company to be a global company, there isn’t the need for investment in bricks and mortars overseas anymore.” Even this does not necessarily diminish the potential value of brick and mortar, just that it is no longer a requirement to do global business.
Brick & Mortar Stores Still Have a Place in Modern Commerce
Lindsay Zaltman, Managing Director & Partner at Olson Zaltman, views brick and mortar in a more positive light. Speaking about a recent family shopping experience in New York City, Zaltman says: “I don’t think they bought anything that they couldn’t have purchased here at home, but there’s something about those experiences that are fun to do in person.”
Zaltman believes that the rumors of brick and mortar dying have been greatly exaggerated. The issues in his eyes are not with brick and mortar itself, but with the old mentality of brick and mortar. Modern businesses must evolve their brick and mortar strategy to meet modern customer demands for convenience, a great experience, and unbeatable value.
Brand Strategy with Clock Tower Insight
Clock Tower Insight is proud to work with a wide range of B2C and B2B industries, including retail, CPG, food service, and advertising organizations. We believe in using powerful, cutting edge research to offer brand-specific insights.
With this insight, we work with brands to turn the data into actionable information, and eventually into business growth. Our services include brand positioning, customer experience management, and much more.
Learn more about how Clock Tower Insight can help your business today.