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Making a Case for an Online and Offline Retail Presence in a Post-Pandemic World

There’s no doubt that the advent of online shopping has provided a valuable lifeline for both consumers and retailers during these unprecedented times. For shoppers, it’s given an avenue for buying daily essentials while safely sticking to the ‘stay at home’ rule, while it’s offered the chance to maintain a critical revenue stream for retailers who may typically be reliant on in-store sales.

However, as retail brands begin to chart a course for recovery in the months and years ahead in a post-lockdown world, it’s important to recognise how consumer behaviour has and could change. Even with the exponential growth of online retail during the current pandemic, we’ll be looking at why there’s still an argument for having a strong presence both on and offline in the future.

Create a safety net

Ecommerce has provided the ideal alternative revenue stream during these uncertain times, particularly for brands who predominantly generate revenue through store sales. But, looking ahead, the future of retail isn’t likely to be just about one revenue source. Instead, if you want to secure the future of your brand in a competitive market, you need to think laterally – offering consumers a holistic shopping experience both on and offline.

Industry experts call this approach ‘omnichannel’, whereby you focus on every aspect of the customer’s interaction with your brand both online and in-store, offering them a fully-integrated unified shopping experience.

Diversifying your shopping avenues for consumers by giving them the option to browse and buy in-store and online offers greater flexibility to customers, allowing them to shop how, where and when they want. However, from a business perspective, this multifaceted retail business model could also provide a secure safety net further down the line, as you’ll benefit from revenue streams coming in from different areas of your business.

Promote seamless shopping experiences

Consumer shopping behaviour is continually changing and as more customers are using smartphones to browse, compare prices and gain real-life reviews on products before they purchase, brands need to adapt their strategies to be available at every point of the marketing funnel.

With statistics showing that 63% of consumers start their purchasing journey online, regardless of where they actually make the purchase, it’s essential to make your brand available in all possible avenues. This not only ensures your brand is an omnipresent force in the marketplace, but will also go towards creating a seamless shopping experience from the initial search query through to actual buying intent.

We’re not just talking about making your products available to buy online or in-store, though. An omnichannel approach goes beyond this, syncing these two facets together and building on this to incorporate social media apps and targeted messaging, email marketing campaigns, a dedicated smartphone app, in-store pick-up and more.

This multifaceted approach will ensure that your retail store is catering to your customers’ needs at every point of their purchasing journey – from initial browsing and price comparison to the virtual or in-store checkout.

Cater for convenience

Photo by Christiann Koepke on Unsplash

The modern-day shopper wants convenience, which is perhaps why browsing and buying on-the-go via smartphones is such a successful strategy. When planning the future of your retail enterprise, don’t forget to prioritise user experience and convenience at every given opportunity.

One savvy way to integrate your online and offline strategy is to create a convenient way for customers to shop across different platforms at different times. For instance, a shopper may see an advert on social media, purchase it via your ecommerce site at a later point in the day, try it on at home, then return it in-store when it suits them – this convenient shopping experience is completely tailored to the customer’s needs at any given moment.

When it comes to physical stores, you should also address the layout and setup of your store to up the convenience factor for customers. Incorporating retail shelving systems that clearly display products and group similar items together is a tried-and-tested method, but you can also give them the option to browse in-store, scan items to their smartphone app and buy at home later.

Similarly, for purely ecommerce brands, you can improve the customer experience by diversifying the availability of products, offering personal pick-up options via secure lockers. This doesn’t even necessarily mean having to have a physical store, simply take a leaf out of Amazon’s book and provide key collection points in geographical locations that work for your customers. This will mean they don’t have to wait for their selected delivery slot, they can just collect items when it suits them.

When it comes to planning for the future of your retail business, adopting a strategy that integrates your online and offline presence could be just what your business needs to meet evolving consumer demands for convenient and seamless shopping experiences, while also diversifying your revenue streams.

Author bio:

Tom Brialey is the Founder and Director of Action Storage, which adopts his philosophy that, in addition to the highest quality products, you must also provide the highest standard of service to your customers in order to succeed. That’s why it’s Tom’s mission to provide expert support 100% of the way.

If you’d like to learn more about setting up your own online shop, you can speak to our ecommerce experts on 0333 004 0333 or request a callback here.

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