Retail Restart

Lesson 6

Online convenience, with brick-and-mortar experience

Customers want it all. Being confined in their homes for months in 2020, they got used to the convenience of online shopping, with their purchase delivered to their doorstep. But while many predict so, this doesn’t need to be a death verdict for your physical stores – as long as you adapt your overall strategy wisely.

To put things in perspective, let’s have a look at the country that has already experienced a post-pandemic era – and which has the world’s highest online sales penetration: China. Even there, more than 80% of all retail sales are still driven by brick-and mortar.

Online sales are still on the rise, though. One successful strategy proven in China’s first post-Covid era is to align the offline experience with the one provided via web. A staple of this strategy is a delivery service, for instance – the mere thought of shlepping the haul back home can kill the idea of a pleasant shopping day. 

Talking of which: The perfume’s smell, the ice cream’s taste and the satin’s feel don’t make their way through the screen. Now it’s up to you to intensify the sensations – be it with live cookings, cocktail parties, fashion shows … you name it. 

As personalized as your relationships with your customers will soon become, you will know who to invite, maybe even to share the runway, shake the shaker or stir the soup etc. Make shopping an event, and make your clients an integral part of it. If you offer memorable experiences, they will be happy to come back. And more likely than not, they’ll come back in good company.

Online shopping behaviors have changed in times of confinement. Whereas consumers used to search for their preferred products and brands, they adapted their offline strolling habits online, leisurely browsing to see what the web has to offer. After all, it’s all in one place: Their computer or smartphone.

Now it’s up to you to make the next turn. Team up and bring different offers together in the sensual world, as well – as retail had already started to do in the “good old days” of the malls. Now, the concept needs to evolve towards an organic system, where basic needs can be covered at one moment, and a visit at the spa in the next. As important, though, is the blend of online services with offline events and facilities; apps can play a crucial role here. They make it easy to reserve the tickets while passing the cinema, on the way to the hairdresser; to order the jeans spotted at the store, in the correct size. The possibilities are endless when two worlds become one.

Let’s recap the lesson’s most important takeaways: 

  • Life after 2020 will not find physical stores dead: More than 80% of all retail sales are still driven by brick-and mortar – in the country with the world’s highest online sales penetration, China.
  • The blend of online services with offline events and facilities is key.
  • Integral online shopping conveniences such as home deliveries can no longer be missed offline.
  • Make shopping an event, and make your clients an integral part of it.

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