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Discover the Benefits of Online, In-store Shopping

By Amy P. Castro


“How can we compete with online retailers?” is a question many brick-and-mortar retailers have struggled with for the past few years, and for many, the focus has been on trying to re-create what the online giants do. However, the second question retailers should be asking that could help give them a competitive edge is, “What do I have that the online giants don’t?”

Many of your customers love the ease of online shopping but also crave the ability to see and touch a product and take it home immediately. By combining the convenience of online shopping with in-store experiences and the instant gratification of an in-store purchase, small retailers can win at the sales game.

Start simply by giving your customers a reason to visit your business more often. As a brick-and-mortar business, you can offer customers “experiences” that they can’t get online. Consider offering or expanding your offerings of events, such as nutrition classes, pet training, pet product showcases and even social events. You can also give yourself a competitive edge by ensuring your staff is educated on the products and services you offer to help customers make better purchase decisions, which is not something they’ll likely get shopping online.

However, no matter what you do, some of your customers are only going to come to the store when they have to, and many will still choose convenience over an experience. Therefore, you’ll still need to focus on online retail efforts to reach them. Consider offering click-and-collect or buy online, pick up in store (BOPUS) to give your customers the convenience of online ordering and the almost instant gratification of being able to drive to the store to get their products right away.

To help make the connection between in-store and online shopping, Purina suggests retailers “showcase in-aisle signage that communicates your e-commerce solutions,” so your customers know they have an alternative way to shop. If you’ve avoided offering these options because you’re afraid of losing sales, the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) 2018 survey found that 86 percent of click-and-collect shoppers bought another item while picking up their item in store.

Finally, Purina offers the following advice for making the online shopping experience a great one for your customers:

Offering an autoship service will not only allow your shoppers to save time and money, but it will also increase repeat buyers. Simplify your online checkout process and be sure to communicate free shipping options. Partnerships with services such as Instacart provide a turnkey way to provide these benefits to your customer.