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How Opening a Physical Store Can Increase Online Traffic

According to recent research from British Land, opening a new brick-and-mortar shop increases online traffic to a retailer’s website by an averageof 52%. For smaller retailers, the benefit can be even greater, with research finding that retailers with less than 30 shops saw an average increase in online traffic of 84% following a new shop opening.

Not only does this research suggest that the highstreet remains very much relevant in today’s retail landscape, but it also points toward the fact that for newer online retailers, opening physical shops can act as an important engine for online growth.

In addition to this, according to TechCrunch, there are three key benefits that physical shops provide to online retailers:

Multisensory Consumer Experiences

  • In-store experiences, including direct contact with products and unique brand experiences, leads to more sales and fewer returns, as well as an increase in repeat customers

Better Logistics and Customer Service

  • Nowadays, retailers that started out online are using physical shops as showrooms, storage and shipping hubs to support their online businesses

Lasting Brand Relationships

  • Providing unique brand experiences when interaction is conducted through a computer screen or smartphone is difficult, hence why online retailers are looking to the physical store as way to meaningfully engage with customers

Indeed, for online retailers, a real-world store is increasingly the competitive edge in driving online sales. For example, take The company started out as an online furniture and homeware retailer when it launched its Magento store in 2010. By 2012, the company opened its first brick-and-mortar showroom in a bid to improve the online retail experience for their customers. Made now has 3 showrooms in the UK alone.

It comes as no surprise that there has been a rise in omnichannel retail strategies amongst online retailers. Whilst the term ‘omnichannel’ has become something of a buzzword, at the end of the day it points towards a strategy whereby retailers use mobile, online and in-store experiences to complement, rather than compete with, one another in order to provide seamless customer experiences across all shopping channels.

Supporting that, Ben Dimson, Head of Retail Business Development at British Land, published a blog post last year that discussed the true value of brick-and-mortar stores. He stated that physical stores will continue to prosper in an omnichannel age as consumers (particularly millennials) look to shop across all channels. Indeed, today’s customers expect to shop when, where and how they want. This undoubtedly means that physical stores will continue to play a role in enhancing customer experiences, fortifying the classic store front environment as a retail channel built to last.

It is clear that brick-and-mortar shops are now about much more than just physical sales; consider product showcasing and the overall brand experience as additional key elements for an in-store strategy. On top of this, the in-store shopping experience should feel like a seamless extension of the customer’s online shopping experience. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of tips for retailers to create better omnichannel in-store shopping experiences:

  • Endless Aisle : give your sales assistants access to your entire online catalogue in-store, allowing for products to still be sold where there is no stock in store
  • Clienteling: enhance store assisted selling by giving your sales assistants easy access to all your product information
  • Inventory Visibility: allow your sales assistants to check stock across different stores both online and offline
  • Multiple in-store shipping options: allow your customers to choose how they receive their products (e.g. pick and carry, ship to store, ship to home)
  • Buy Online, Return to Store: allow your customers to return items they bought online, in-store

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