Benefits of online stores were being touted so much that people started predicting the death of retail stores. However, brick-and-mortar stores are so resilient that they exist to this day. Actually, according to the US department of Commerce Statistics, retail sales increased by 3.8% in 2019 to $3,763 trillion from $3,626 trillion. However, eCommerce sales figures are not far behind. While eCommerce sales accounted for close to 9 percent of the total retail sales during the period 2013 to 2017, the forecast is that it will exceed 12 percent by 2021.
While the Online Vs Retail debate rages on, statistics indicate that more than 67 percent of the millennials prefer to shop online rather than walking into a brick-and-mortar store to purchase anything. It may be surprising to note that 28 percent of the senior citizens too seem to be aware of the benefits of eCommerce shopping.
The Journey from Product View to Checkout
Enterprises running an eCommerce store realize that they can survive only based on their conversions. That is why an eCommerce site needs to be designed perfectly. It isn’t enough to display your products well; the journey from product view to checkout has to be smooth and seamless. You may be having a steady flow of traffic to your website, but what about the conversions?
Did you know that more than 69% of the online shoppers abandon their shopping carts? This works out to a startling 69 out of 100 customers abandoning their shopping carts for some reason or the other. So, how can you fix this? For starters, instead of educating the customers on the benefits of online store make the journey by adding more checkout buttons. Have one at the top of the page and one at the bottom, with access to two buttons on the same page, the abandonment rate should fall.
Most people worry about the security, and if your pages do not appear to be secure you’ll scare away your customers. With more people being affected by credit card fraud (46% at last count in the US) most of your shoppers could have been affected at some time or the other. More reason for you to secure the checkout process and make it foolproof. Display security badges (Norton, McAfee etc.) to gain the confidence of your customers.
Also, make sure that you don’t have too many form fields, which only makes the checkout process cumbersome. Try to collect only the information that is relevant to your business and make sure you don’t repeat questions (like asking for the customer’s name) Research indicates that websites that have minimum form fields have less abandonment during checkout.
Where’s the Customer Service better – Online or Retail?
Even today over 57 percent of the shoppers prefer to buy at a retail store rather than online because customer service is the main concern. They probably believe that a store assistant will attend to their needs better or there’s always the customer service desk where they can get any issues resolved. When it comes to the question of benefits of eCommerce, people realize that technology is at play with most eCommerce companies. These online stores are smart enough to use technology to their advantage.
A customer shopping online can expect a curated, personalized experience that gives them a seamless shopping experience. This, of course, does not exist in any retail store. Ecommerce stores use personalized emails and other content to strike a rapport with the customers. Online retailers are adept at anticipating potential issues and create solutions based on technology to create a great shopping experience.
However, whether it is online or retail, the customers’ reactions are identical to poor or excellent service. Some customers do look up a product in a retail store and proceed to buy it from an eCommerce store. This may be because they hope to get a better bargain or because they can find a lot of reviews and customer testimonials on the website, which influence their decisions.
Benefits of having Online Store/Retail Store
An eCommerce store has no physical barriers and can sell to anyone anywhere. This is probably one of the major benefits of eCommerce that helps online businesses draw customers in large numbers from far and wide. It doesn’t really matter where you are located, unlike a retail store, which has to be located in a prime area to get good business. While the benefits of eCommerce stores include getting new customers every hour, a brick-and-mortar store depends on repeat customers to a large extent.
Cost-wise, an eCommerce store has a great advantage. The investment required to start an online business is much lower when compared to the costs involved in opening a retail store. Online stores are open 24/7/365. However, online stores have holidays and closing times, which is a great disadvantage.
Customers walking into a brick-and-mortar store can physically see and touch the product they plan to buy. However, it is the skill and technology that are at work when a product is displayed on a website. Displays and catalogs need to be attractive enough to convince the customers to hit the ‘buy’ button.
Why it’s important to have an online store in this digital age?
In today’s digital age it is very important for a business to have a compelling online presence. The first thing a customer does before buying a product is to look for details of the product by doing a quick research online. They may not be looking for your eCommerce store in particular, but it is likely that they will stumble on your company if your website is optimized with the right content and keywords.
The Internet provides one of the best platforms for online companies to showcase their products. Moreover, it is easier for an online company to build a relationship with a customer by using social media to create a brand presence. People relate to companies that have a presence on Facebook and Instagram simply because every other person is on social media, which is the happening place.
Having a well-designed website and making use of social media helps establish your brand strongly. Moreover, the cost of reaching out to customers on social media is a fraction of what you would have to spend on ads offline. Most of the customers believe that any company that does not have an online presence cannot be very reliable. That is the effect social media has on customers, who would any day prefer an eCommerce store to a retail store.