As eCommerce Expands, the In-Store Experience Is Still Crucial. Here’s Why.

eCommerce is eating up a rapidly expanding piece of the retail pie. In 2021 alone, eCommerce sales increased 14.2% over 2020.

Even so, there are a couple of caveats to keep in mind when we talk about the growth of eCommerce:

First, Amazon accounts for more than 43% of all U.S. eCommerce.

Second, online spending has held steady at 19% for the past two years. You cannot ignore the fact that more than 80% of the rest of commerce in the U.S. is happening in physical stores.

Thus, the in-store experience is still a crucial element in delivering a vibrant customer experience for your brand.

Brick and Mortar Offers an Opportunity for a Guided Selling Experience

Creating an engaging omnichannel customer journey means prioritizing the customer experience at every point in the buying process…including both online and in-store experiences.

A physical store gives you the opportunity to offer a tangible, multi-sensory guided selling experience that eCommerce simply can’t match.

Some Products Require Physical Engagement Before Buying

A website photo and item description isn’t always enough for a consumer to effectively evaluate a product. They need to engage with the product using all of their senses.

Enhancing the customer experience through physical engagement with the product is one of the most important roles of the physical store.

Not all products require physical inspection for the customer to make an informed purchasing decision, but some do. Customers need to engage their senses with these products — essentially “kicking the tires” before buying (in some cases, literally).

In-Store Engagement Builds Consumer Trust and Loyalty

Enabling customers to make better buying decisions in this way serves to enhance their satisfaction with and loyalty to the retailer…therefore increasing the retailer’s profits.

One study showed that over a two-year period, in-store purchases of products that require more physical engagement increased overall customer spending by 20%.

Physical engagement with products helps ensure customers make more informed purchase decisions, leaving them more satisfied with their purchases and more trusting that the store suits their needs.

A consumer who trusts your brand is more likely to spend more with you and more likely to become a repeat customer.

An Effective In-Store Customer Experience Spurs Additional Online Purchases

Successful in-store engagement spurs customers to generalize beyond the product they bought in store and branch out into additional purchases online.

When a customer finds a product they like through the in-store shopping experience, they are more likely to purchase the same product again online. They are also more likely to buy adjacent products or accessories online. This increases customer value, as multichannel customers tend to be more profitable than single-channel customers.

In this way, the physical store can be an acquisition channel — a way to draw new customers in, then encourage them to make additional purchases online.

You Need To Offer Something Different From What Consumers Can Get Online

But simply offering a brick and mortar location isn’t enough. You have to provide something unique — something the customer can’t find online. You need to create an experience in the showroom that keeps the customer engaged…and keeps them coming back.

This is especially true when you’re selling a high-value product that the customer won’t see for 18 months (or more, in some cases). With physical engagement as a driver, a store can act as more of a showroom, requiring less inventory in stock. This allows the consumer to engage with your product, then order it in store or online.

The experience you curate in store should make it easy for the consumer to touch, feel, and try out products. Sales personnel need to be trained to help the customer engage with and interpret their experience with the products.

Each time a customer visits your physical store should be a memorable event and a way for them to connect more meaningfully with your brand. When you offer quality, attentive service paired with the chance to physically handle the product, you offer something that no online experience can.

For an Engaging In-Store Experience That Complements Your Online Presence, Partner With Miller Wittman

At Miller Wittman, we can help you create an engaging in-store customer experience that complements and expands on the experience you offer online. Even better, our proven processes and tailored solutions can help you achieve your in-store sales and profit goals.

Over our 27 years in business, we have created and launched successful in-store product rollouts and programs with thousands of independent retailers and leading manufacturers.

Your stores are your largest, most visible investment…and they remain so, even with significant eCommerce growth. We'll work with you to bring your stores to life and draw consumers into engaged, long-term relationship with your brand.

Contact us to discuss your needs and learn how we can help your physical stores succeed in the eCommerce age.