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Brick-and-mortar retailers worry that their expensive storefronts are just museums for ecommerce sites—expensive to maintain and feeding product sales directly to competitor ecommerce sites like Amazon.com. But is worrying worth it if ecommerce sales only make up around 6% of total retail sales?
Before quashing ecommerce completely, a primer on who is showrooming and why:
But while retailers worry about showrooming, ecommerce sites have the reverse problem: webrooming. Data released in February 2014 by Accenture revealed that there may actually be more shoppers who browse and conduct research online before buying in-store than those who browse in-store before buying online. Among US digital shoppers who had made purchases in the past 12 months, 78% reported webrooming (buying in-store after browsing digitally), and 72% said they showroomed (bought digitally after browsing at a store).
The leg up that retailers’ storefronts will always have is the ability to gratify customers’ needs instantly. No need to wait for a package to arrive and track it to the doorstep.
Trends in brick-and-mortar store openings indicate that retailers are doing everything they can to keep customers coming to their stores—or at least make them relevant enough to the path to purchase to ensure that keeping storefronts open is viable and necessary for sales and marketing. Retailers are also equipping themselves—online and offline—to compete with independent sites like Amazon head-on. They have beefed up their online inventories and offer store credit to customers who buy through the retailers’ ecommerce site when they can’t find an item in-store. Some also provide free shipping.
Retailers that want to escape the threat of ecommerce-first platforms breathing down their necks will first have to improve customer service, return policies, selection and stock. If customers can’t find what they need in-store today, why wouldn’t they buy from an ecommerce engine tomorrow?
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