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Monday, December 14, 2009

Brick-and-Mortar vs. Web: Which Retail Experience Wins Out?

Here's an interesting premise, as described in The Obsolescence of Brick-and-Mortar:

"Brick-and-mortar retail stores selling everything from clothing to high-ticket items like flat-screen TVs will turn into warehouses where consumers can touch and feel the merchandise. Web sites, supported by search engines and site search, will become the cash cow for the retail store."

Rather extreme, wouldn't you say?

At the same time, it isn't when you consider the various forces at work which the current economic environment has only precipitated.

Customers, now more than ever, seek value in-store and online.

On the web they find credible information and the ultimate in convenience.

Customers can and will compare prices and evaluate products online. They expect the same level of transparency in-store. And, if you as a retailer cannot justify the value you offer customers, you can count on customers to make their purchase decision based entirely on price.

Otherwise, customers feel stupid and taken advantage of, a sure way to lose customers for life.

So, what is a brick-and-mortar retailer to do?

Have you identified what value you offer customers?

Do you ignore the online dynamics and expect them to fade away?

Or, do you have a strategy to deal with them?

Kim Gavin, from Floor Covering Weekly, in her editorial titled "I feel guilty, but I saved money" from October 19/26, 2009 describes this very scenario. She asks about strategy and whether retailers are ready to demonstrate and explain the value they offer.

What's your response?


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