Should You Add a Physical Store to Your Online Retail Business?

by Thom Tracy

2 min read

In a world where e-commerce dominates the market, it seems almost counter-intuitive for an online retail business to open a physical storefront. However, despite the additional operating costs, having a brick-and-mortar store can actually be beneficial for an online business.

Let Customers Experience Your Products

Think about what your business sells, and ask yourself if your customers will be more inclined to make a purchase if they can see and try out the products in person. If your business sells products such as clothing and jewellery, having a physical storefront allows customers to experience the products before they buy. In fact, many online stores that go from screens to streets are apparel and lifestyle brands. For example, yogawear brand Athleta launched its online store in 1998 and opened its first physical storefront in 2011.

Make People Aware of Your Brand

The number of online retail businesses has increased rapidly in recent years. With so many online stores, unless your brand is very well-known or your online store appears in the first page of the online search results, sometimes it is not easy for new customers to find you.

When you add a physical storefront at a strategic location, you catch people’s attention when they pass by. Some of these people may not have heard of your brand before. The storefront offers a great opportunity for you to advertise your brand.

Companies such as Casper, Warby Parker, and Amazon have found that opening physical storefronts is a way to market their businesses. Often, people who visit their physical stores also become their online customers.

Increase Your Sales Revenue

People are often willing to pay more for products that they can touch before they buy. When they can try out a product rather than just looking at its pictures, they feel more comfortable buying it because they are more certain that it is something that they want. This is particularly the case for higher-priced products, such as jewellery.

For example, when you want to buy a wedding ring, you’re more likely to want to go to the store to try out different rings even when you can get a cheaper one online. The idea of paying a high price for something you can’t touch is just not very reassuring for many people.

In addition, some people prefer to buy at physical stores because they don’t like to wait for their orders to ship. They don’t mind paying a little more if they can receive the products right away.

Interact With Your Customers

When customers make a purchase at your online store, they browse through your products, choose the ones they want, and pay for them. You don’t get to interact with them at all during the whole process. You may be able to get some insight on their buying habits through the website metric, but it is not the same as watching them and asking them for feedback in person. Furthermore, in-person interaction also tends to encourage customers to buy.

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