Quite contrary to what one might think after the pandemic that put the commercial world and the retail industry in check, e-commerce will not be the only way to shop from now on. Physical stores will not lose the prominence they have had throughout history. In fact, so far this year, retailers have opened more than 4,200 stores, which far exceeds the number of stores closed during these first months of 2022. What is more, as a result, this year is the first of net-positive store openings since 2016.
In order to understand this, it is important to keep in mind that physical stores fulfil many more functions than just selling a product or service. Here, we will elaborate on just a few of the features that will make brick-and-mortar stores remain with us for a long time.
Physical stores ensure that customers can immerse themselves in the experience offered by the brand
While digital-only brands have been hugely successful, retailers say that having a physical store drives growth and develops brand awareness. Physical stores ensure that customers can immerse themselves in the experience offered by the brand through its products or services, the design of the place, the interactive activities it offers, the staff and face-to-face engagement, among many other features. All of this serves to build a longer lasting relationship between customers and the brand. Some brands that continue to expand their business by setting up a physical store after starting online include Allbirds, Untuckit and Brilliant Earth.
It is critical that customers who prefer in-person interactions have the possibility to speak with someone
In the retail ecosystem, it is also important to be able to expose inventory and improve different operations that take place from the moment the product or service is manufactured and offered until it reaches the customer’s hands. For this reason, many retailers are considering new measures to improve deliveries, reducing carbon footprint and satisfying consumer needs. Similarly, in the event of any issues or misunderstandings, it is critical that customers who prefer in-person interactions have the possibility to speak with someone who can resolve issues and answer their questions and queries.
A crucial aspect that physical stores can offer and that cannot be found in online stores is the possibility of coming into contact and engaging with the product instantly. Customers can see the product live, try it, ask the staff about its features and compare it with other products in the store before deciding to buy it. This generates a sense of security and reinforces the customer’s decision to trust the brand, either for the first time or to continue choosing its products.
The physical format allows customers to interact with staff and products, enhances the shopping experience through various features that engage the senses, entertain and inspire people, and are part of our social interactions. Undoubtedly, physical stores are part of the future of the commercial industry and it is important to implement them in order to avoid being left behind.