The constant evolution of e-commerce provides a hybrid of digital and physical purchasing possibilities to customers. While the appeal of an online market is steadily increasing, consumers still cannot resist the social experiences and certain advantages that brick-and-mortar is able to provide. Among the many irreplaceable elements of the in-store shopping experience that cannot be replicated online, here are the top five reasons why shoppers still rely on – and prefer – brick-and-mortar retailers.
1. Personalized Shopping Experience
With all of the advancements that online shopping provides, it still cannot compete with the personalized in-store shopping experience that’s found at brick-and-mortar stores – and that customers crave. Walking up and down the aisles, listening to the music, taking the time to browse and linger; there’s just no way the web can parallel such an immersive experience.
It’s this sort of engagement and excitement that continuously attracts shoppers to brick-and-mortar stores. In fact, according to Retail Touch Points, during the 2018 holiday season 96% of consumers did at least some of their shopping in-store, thanks to the ambiance and festive decor found in physical stores.
In addition to a store’s ambiance, physical stores also attract (and retain) customers through hosting events and classes – something an online store just can’t do. Some examples of events held in retail stores are product launch parties, book signings, holiday parties, charity events, and various classes for cooking, crafting, DIY home projects, and more. And don’t be mistaken, just because events are held in person doesn’t mean they can’t feature the convenience of the digital world. It’s easy for customers to securely pay registration fees and obtain event tickets online, using tools like Star Micronics’ partner Authorize.Net to provide a simplified payment process.
Simply put, brick-and-mortar stores offer a level of customer service and personalized experience that online shopping simply can’t duplicate, making one thing clear: the need for physical stores is here to stay.
2. Ability to Preview Products In-Person – Before Purchase Commitment
One of the biggest advantages that brick-and-mortar stores have is the ability for consumers to inspect products before buying them. Getting a feel for the material, verifying the quality, and testing the product before committing to it is a surefire way to avoid surprises that can be caused by misleading online information and pictures. A recent TimeTrade report showed that as many as 87% of modern consumers want to see and experience a product prior to “taking the plunge.”
Who can blame them? Shoppers value seeing goods in person because it helps avoid inaccurate sizing, malfunctioning equipment, and product scams. Even with an abundance of high-quality photos and videos available online, there’s still nothing like seeing a product with your own eyes and touching it with your own hands, which is why consumers still travel to physical stores to get the most bang for their buck.
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3. Quick, Hassle-Free Returns
Even with the alluring ability to inspect products before purchasing, there’s always a possibility that customers may need to return an item. But there’s no question about it, the return policies available at brick-and-mortar stores offer a more simplistic and engaging process than their online counterparts. With just one quick stop, shoppers are able to verbally discuss their returns, ask questions, learn about new deals, and possibly even negotiate the return policy terms.
Brick-and-mortar returns are a clear winner for customers seeking an urgent solution – they can replace the item right then and there, with no shipping costs, no deadline stress, and certainly no waiting. While online platforms consistently update return policies to better enhance customer service, brick-and-mortar stores continue to have benefits up their sleeves that makes in-store returns simply irresistible.
4. Easy, Quick and Detailed Customer Service
It’s undeniable that face-to-face customer service continues to reign supreme, even with the rise of modern online customer service tools. The interactive service offered at brick-and-mortar stores helps shoppers locate products in the store, get second opinions, and more. This sort of personalized expertise and knowledge is highly favored because it provides consumers with a level of interaction that can only happen in-person, as well as answers that even the web might not have (yes, that skirt matches that blouse).
A recent Retail CX Trends study showed that 30% of consumers claim that personalized treatment is what elevates an experience and makes them feel special. The ability for brick-and-mortar stores to offer consistent service that is tailored to the customers’ specific needs and situations ultimately saves the consumer time and improves their overall shopping experience. You just can’t find that level of customized, instant attention online.
5. Ability to Take Items Home Immediately
Even if an online store offers two-day or same-day delivery, no form of expedited shipping can compare to the delivery speed experienced at physical stores. When consumers choose a brick-and-mortar store, they don’t need to worry about waiting, handling fees, or damaged and lost packages. Only physical stores are able to offer the satisfaction of immediately bringing an item (that you know is correct and in satisfactory shape) home.
Today’s shoppers have spoken and they want their purchases now. A recent Retail Dive survey shows that 49% of consumers choose brick-and-mortar stores over the web because they like to take home items immediately. Just one swipe of a credit card unlocks the instant use of your latest buy – the perfect option for the impulse buyer or last-minute shopper in all of us.