From E-Commerce To Retail: 7 Myths Debunked

07.23.2019 Articles

“Retail is dead” – it’s a pessimistic phrase that’s been on repeat over the past decade or so. With the rise of Amazon and online shopping, many long-standing companies such as Radio Shack, Sears, and K-Mart have been forced to downsize or close their doors entirely.

However, the future of retail is so much more promising than what the news makes it out to be. According to RetailDive, digitally native brands such as Warby Parker, Casper, Adore Me, Indochino, and Allbirds are set to open over 850 physical stores during the next five years. So, while traditional retailers have been struggling to stay relevant, e-commerce natives are moving beyond the confines of the internet and exploring new ways to compete. This “clicks-to-bricks” trend represents a significant shift for brands who – just a few years ago – didn’t think physical store locations were necessary to generate sales and convert customers. Turns out, traditional retail really isn’t dead. Which leads us to debunk our first myth…

Myth #1: Brick and mortar stores are no longer relevant.

Although e-commerce is considered a more “convenient” shopping alternative, modern consumers still enjoy being able to browse, see, touch, feel, and interact with products before they buy them. But more importantly, brick and mortar stores offer online brands a chance to step outside of the digital advertising clutter to connect with a new audience and stay relevant with an immersive, end-to-end customer experience. For example, the head of retail for Fabletics, Ron Harries, said that “…opening physical stores wasn’t in the company’s original plan in late 2014, but it realized that a physical location could acquire customers more efficiently…and customers who live near a store are more likely to return an online purchase at that store.”

Myth #2: Your digital and retail strategies should be different. 

Digital and retail do not – and should not – exist in silos. Digital and retail marketing campaigns should work in conjunction to elevate the consumer journey and drive in-store foot traffic; your online presence should complement your retail strategy, and vice versa. So while 86% of U.S. retail sales still happen in brick-and-mortar stores, 53% of all purchase decisions are digitally influenced. This means your strategies need to talk to each other so that you can influence purchase decisions no matter where they happen – online or offline. In fact, successfully tying these two channels together shows that for a brand that’s less than 10 years old, new store openings mean a 45% increase on average in online traffic.

Myth #3: Retail sales are the only goal. 

When you’re used to conducting business entirely online, success is mostly measured in conversions. However, physical retail performs a bit differently, and ROI can be more complicated to figure out. It’s important to remember that plenty of non-quantifiable actions that take place in retail can’t be directly tied to any dollar amount. For instance, if a customer visits your retail location, speaks with a friendly, knowledgeable store associate, and leaves without purchasing anything, it might seem like that interaction was a waste.

However, there’s a good chance that customer will re-visit your brand in person or online in the future, or even go out and tell others about their positive shopping experience. Word-of-mouth, the original form of social media, still influences the success of your brand, especially your brick-and-mortar strategy, and has been identified as the most valuable form of marketing. For example, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising. So, while each visit to your store may not result directly in a sale right then, it may pay out dividends over time in the form of advocacy.

Myth #4: The retailer does all the work for you. 

Has your product been picked up by a major retailer? Congrats! Although, don’t get too excited thinking it’s going to be a breeze. Many e-commerce brands mistakenly think the retailer will support their marketing program by providing prime shelf space, maintaining promotional displays, and consistently recommending their product to shoppers. In reality, you need to take on that responsibility and be your own brand advocate.

When you go into mass retail, think of it as “renting” an apartment from a landlord. Much like the apartment/landlord scenario, it’s up to each brand to make sure their small slice of retail space looks welcoming, is ready for customer interactions, and is easy for customers to leave with the product in hand. Also, just like moving into a new neighborhood, it’s important to get to know the lay of the land and build relationships with each retailer that you work with. Understanding the rules to follow, such as when to engage with store associates and which third party labor providers have access to do work in the store on your behalf (hint: BDSmktg is one of them!), will help you build a successful retailer relationship.

Myth #5: You can “set it and forget it.”

Getting your brand into retail is only 50% of the equation. After the initial launch, maintenance is key for ongoing success. From product restocks and display installations, to fixing malfunctioning digital displays and seasonal merchandising refreshes, the work that goes into maintaining a pristine retail presence never ends. How do you stay on top of ensuring your brand presence is in tip top shape? With the assistance of a retail marketing partner that has a nationwide presence, you can have eyes on the ground at all times so you can do less auditing and more strategizing. Monthly assessments can help you better understand your business and proactively fix issues before they impact your brand image.

Myth #6: You don’t need to worry about competitors.

Just like you would conduct an analysis of your competitor’s website or social media pages to understand what you’re up against online, you also need to know exactly how your competitors look in-store. Before you even think about creating a retail marketing strategy, you should visit the physical retail location to do a competitor shelf assessment, look at category space, and take note of price points. By doing this in-store analysis, you’ll be able to make informed decisions when it comes to fleshing out the details of your own retail strategy.

Myth #7: Store associates will advocate for your brand. 

Store associates are employed by the retailer – not you – and they do not have any obligation to advocate on behalf of your brand. When a customer is making a purchase decision, there are often 10+ options to consider. If they ask an uninformed store associate for their recommendation, that person won’t be able to do your brand justice. If you want to make the most impact, ensure your brand is well represented by trained professionals who can speak to your specific benefits when interacting with store associates. They should be able to provide up-to-date product features, differentiators, new launch info, and seasonal promotions so that store associates in turn can relay that information clearly to shoppers.

While online shopping is a mainstay now, so is the rejuvenation of retail. E-commerce accounts for 14.3% of total retail sales – a sizable number, but still the minority. That means physical stores open a world of sales opportunity for online-only brands. With all these myths debunked, are you ready to launch into the world of brick-and-mortar retail? We are! Contact us today to get started on your customized plan.