eMarketer has new research out that asks how much longer will traditional stores remain shoppers’ favorite, with the underlying premise being that traditional retail is doomed. But is that really true? Will e-commerce kill retail?
Well, with all due respect to my friends at eMarketer, this is a silly question. How long will traditional stores remain shoppers’ favorite channel?
Forever. At least for most purchases. And at least if you do it right.
First, let’s dig into the research. Here’s the good news:
“Among digital shoppers worldwide, 72% said the traditional store experience was important when making a purchase—the highest percentage out of locations and channels studied. The internet landed second, at 67%.”
Customers actually prefer the in-store experience over any other channel when making a purchase.
Even more good news for most retail outlets:
“Despite mobile’s rise and rumors of showrooming, smartphone websites and apps trailed behind in-store tech and even email as important channels for purchases.”
Of course, every silver lining has a cloud, right? Here’s the not-so-good:
“Capgemini noted that physical shops faced a grimmer future: Digital shoppers worldwide planned to order directly from brand manufacturers more in the coming years (65%), up ordering via a manufacturer’s app (53%) or third-party app (50%), spend more money on the internet than in a brick-and-mortar (51%) and turn to stores for showrooming rather than purchases (48%).”
Well, sure. When customers have experiences like those in yesterday’s podcast episode, “When It’s All E-commerce Goes Wrong”, of course customers would rather shop online.
But… it doesn’t have to be this way. I’ve said many times that all marketing is social. And that’s because all people are social. For many, many people, it’s a lot more fun to get out and mill about at the mall (or whatever its future equivalent may be), than it is to sit at home. And it always will be.
Remember, I do digital for a living, love it, and breathe it. That doesn’t change the fact that human beings are social creatures. Digital, mobile, online — whatever you want to call it — is incredibly convenient. It makes it easy to shop and buy the things you want, when you want, where you want, and how you want. I recently needed to get some replacement water filters for my refrigerator. Ordering online offered a fantastic way to accomplish that goal as a.) I didn’t need the product today, and b.) I don’t particularly enjoy shopping for refrigerator filters.
Of course, e-commerce and digital provides customers a convenient way to shop when and where they want for all sorts of products and services, including much more highly considered and personal purchases than water filters. It’s not e-commerce or traditional retail. It’s e-commerce and retail, working together that provides the greatest benefits to both you and your customers.
What will change, though, is what it means to be a “traditional” retailer. Take a look at what Birchbox is doing with its new storefront, Amazon’s new storefront in Manhattan, or Apple’s exceedingly successful retail strategy. Each takes a different approach to solving customers’ retail needs. And, yes, it’s not guaranteed that all three will succeed in the long run (though Apple sure seems to have a bright road ahead).
Marketing in a mobile, social, digital era differs from the past in that your customers can easily find a preferable alternative — especially if you don’t offer them an attractive option today. But that’s a choice you make, every day. Make the right one, and your customers will continue to choose you for a long time to come.
If you’re interested in learning even more about how customers changing behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.
Plus, don’t miss these slides and video from my recent webinar, “Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year”:
(And, yes… you can hire me to speak at your next event, too).
Finally, you might also want to check out some of our past coverage of the mobile, local, social web and how to make it work for your business, including:
- What Your Customers Expect from Mobile and E-commerce in 2014
- The Secrets Behind “It’s All E-commerce” for 2014
- Should Marketers Really Trust Google in 2014?
- The Zen of Digital Marketing Strategy
- 7 Steps to E-Commerce Heaven
- Today and Tomorrow: Mobile and The Changing Customer Journey
- Mobile Makes E-commerce Even More “Frictionless”
- Your 2014 Internet Marketing New Year’s Resolutions – Thinks Out Loud Episode 56