Think brick-and-mortar commerce is dying? Think again
Although plenty of retail customer intelligence analysts have eagerly predicted the demise of physical shopping, such a time has yet to arrive.
Instead, enterprises focused on selling specialty merchandise have been leveraging a blend of ecommerce and brick-and-mortar outlets to optimize customer service. Big-name merchants providing a variety of goods to consumers have yet to completely abandon tangible retail storefronts as well.
Why brick-and-mortar still matters
Some uneducated critics have gone so far as to say that ecommerce transactions dwarf sales made in physical stores by 80 percent. However, Forbes contributor Laura Heller referenced a statistic developed by the U.S. Department of Commerce, which discovered online purchases accounted for a mere 6.4 percent of total retail sales during Q2 2014.
While this percentage is rising every year, it still doesn't change the fact that an overwhelming majority of people continue to buy goods at tangible locations. So, why is that? Heller outlined several notable factors that impact the shopping experience:
- Many people research goods online and then physically test their usability, wearability or durability at a physical location. Although many online merchants offer free returns, that doesn't mean consumers enjoy the hassle of packaging an item and delivering it back to warehouses.
- There are plenty of sales "professionals" who irritate customers, but such aggravation is typically caused by the salesperson's social ineptness. On the other hand, there are those who work retail floors with a casual, amiable demeanor, providing their own opinions regarding certain products. This is the kind of experience the typical customer is searching for.
Something more should be said about the salespeople who go above and beyond. Heller noted that while the Internet can provide a plethora of information, specific data can be difficult to find. She referenced an occasion when she visited a shoe store, during which a customer representative called the manufacturer of a specific brand to provide Heller with more information.
GameStop still on its feet, still running
One specialty retail outlet that still maintains relevancy in this day and age is GameStop, which distributed more than $3 billion worth of goods in fiscal 2013 through thousands of its brick-and-mortar stores in the U.S., GameSpot reported.
While the source also noted that the enterprise announced plans to close 120 stores across the nation, the statement coincided with assertions that it intended to open specialty outlets, such as Spring Mobile and SimplyMac locations. In addition, GameStop Technology Institute SVP Jeff Donaldson maintained the merchant intends to install technology that will make for an even more interactive in-store experience.
Brick-and-mortar isn't going anywhere, at least for the foreseeable future.