The Rise of Clicks and Bricks Retailing. We’ve seen the war raging for years between traditional and online retail – and they simply have not played nicely. The rise of e-commerce has uncovered many antiquated aspects of traditional bricks and mortar retail, with ease of access to more products, lower prices, and comparison at a click, all tipping the scales towards a win for online shopping. The shout of “online only, online only” and “traditional retail is dead” has been intensifying, with many traditional retailers closing stores or closing up altogether. Sometimes, it seems as though the Amazons of the world are taking over and the prophecy of “online only” is boldly coming to fruition.
But there has been a new movement emerging – the trend of online retailers moving to bricks and mortar – the rise of ‘clicks and bricks’. Yes, in parallel with the focus on e-commerce levelling the traditional retailer, e-commerce has also started to move into traditional retail spaces. The strong front-runners of e-commerce have come to the realization that shoppers assign a value to experience – being able to see, feel and inspect products in real life, and see themselves “with” the item – instead of only trusting online photos, videos and blocks of copy.
Eyewear mogul Warby Parker, clothing retailer Bonobos, designer gown rental service Rent the Runway, footwear giant Zappos, beauty products subscription company Birchbox, Montreal-based millennial menswear purveyors Frank & Oak, and even the mighty Amazon all started as Internet-only businesses. Yet, now each has physical stores. This emerging world of integrated shopping experiences, which grant customers the best of online and offline worlds is truly bringing omnichannel into maturity, with goods being offered online and in person. Macy’s, the omnichannel kingpin of retail, has seen massive success by building a robust e-commerce and online ecosystem that even allows shoppers to purchase online and pick up in store. The blossoming click-and-collect model provides shoppers with all the ease and convenience of online while cutting out shipping fees and wait times for products to arrive. The big benefit? Macy’s customers who click and collect spend as much as 125% of the value of the original order by selecting additional purchases – you guessed it – inside the physical store.
So, is the move to brick and mortar by online retailers the way of the future? If online retailers can translate their innovative, in-depth customer data and incredibly designed user experiences into an omnichannel marketplace, giving customers the ability to move smoothly across all channels while shopping (anytime and anyplace), then it will most certainly be a winning model.
Michael Chase, CMO
St. Joseph Communications
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