The Future of Physical Stores is Digital

Online shopping

With the lockdowns in place all over the world due to the coronavirus pandemic, very few industries are conducting business as usual. Many rely on online means to attract sales. How will this affect physical stores?

Rise of Online Shopping

In the United States, the decline of physical stores has been a real phenomenon even before the shutdowns, with merchants from various industries closing stores by the thousands every year. In 2019 alone, 81 retail companies filed for bankruptcy, citing reduced revenues due to a slowdown in business.

The culprit? Online shopping.

In the Western world, the average household is now spending around $5,000 a year in online shopping, and it’s hurting physical stores everywhere.  As more and more countries in Asia also adopt these retail business model, how will conventional retailers survive?

Let’s take a look at how your business can survive and thrive in a digital business environment:

Digital Channels Are Your Friend

Shifting to digital platforms doesn’t mean abandoning your brick-and-mortar locations altogether. For example, more than 60% of consumers use their mobile devices while shopping in a physical store. They do this to compare prices, look for discounts, or make sure items are in stock.

Applying digital to your business plan is a way to keep customers within your sphere of influence. For instance, establishing a social media presence for your business is a powerful marketing tool to inform customers of deals and promos in your physical stores. Meanwhile, having an updated list of items in stock in your company website helps customers decide on what to buy well before they enter your shop.

Embrace Online Deliveries

Retailers that have embraced online sales may also take part in digital prosperity by establishing online delivery systems for their products.  Delivery services in Singapore, for example, have enjoyed a considerable uptick in business since retailers decided to go digital.  After all, isn’t online shopping much more convenient than actually driving to the nearest mall?

That said, it doesn’t mean that retail companies should abandon their physical stores. It might seem counter-intuitive, but online deliveries can actually increase foot traffic in your physical stores, especially if you have creative deals and promos that are only available onsite.

Think about it: if a customer orders something from you online and they are pleased with your product, they will want to purchase more from your company.  You may design your business in such a way that regular items will be available online while the premium ones will be found in-store. Your more loyal customers won’t hesitate to visit your physical store to get the products they want. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

The Future is Now

Online shopping concept

If you think the switch to digital is a thing for tomorrow, think again. The future is now, and your competitors are already on-board. Don’t worry; in the digital world, it’s not about who does it first, but who does it best. Rethinking your business strategy to integrate digital technologies entirely should be done in your next board meeting, and implemented on the next working day.

It’s one thing to fall behind, but it’s another to stay out of the loop forever. The digital world moves fast, and the technologies that power it change by the month. If you want your physical stores to survive, you’re going to need to go digital ASAP.

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