Marketing September 10, 2015 Last updated September 19th, 2018 1,868 Reads share

Can Traditional Retailers Compete With Contemporary Ecommerce Firms?

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Yes, we do live in a digital world! The exponential growth of internet has dramatically changed the way a retailer does business. Certainly, it has affected traditional commerce on a large scale. While traditional businesses have to compete within a single industry and within a specific geographical area, internet is breaking all the boundaries.

However, traditional retailers are panicking about

The Striking Difference

Apart from the convenience and choice, eCommerce industry attracts customers with huge discounts. However, researchers found that this may not be a sustainable model and will not be viable in the long run. In this context, traditional retailers are at an advantage. They need to know that buyers are mostly influenced by brand advertisements and word of mouth.

These marketing strategies motivate them to visit brick-and-mortar stores to buy brands. The sales representatives can further educate the buyers about the brand. So based on the inputs on these myriad sources, a buyer is easily convinced to make a purchasing decision.

More than 61% Shop In-Store

It is indeed good news for the traditional retailers against the 31% of people who turn to the internet. Until eCommerce finds a less expensive solution for same day delivery, traditional commerce continues to win on this point. In-store shopping has the ability to offer products to the customers immediately.

Not only this, the biggest benefit for brands operating brick-and-mortar stores is the way in which consumers spend their money while shopping. They need to understand that approximately 41% of shoppers spend more than they had planned to while shopping in stores. The product displays and the decorative store-fronts can strongly influence shoppers to make an impulse purchase.

Moreover, traditional store isn’t about just what you purchase. It’s about the environment, mood, the hustle and bustle of the shops, the chance to grab a cup of coffee, bite to eat with your friends especially after a successful day of shopping. Nothing beats the satisfaction of heading to the shops on a mission and finding exactly what you’re looking for. To add to these advantages, a day of shopping means a lot of walking around – the energy that you do not burn while sitting in front of the computers.

The Core Competition

Traditional retailers are often troubled by the non-linear buying behaviour of the millennials. This so called screen generation always want to stare at the screens and shop on devices convenient to them. Traditional merchants refer to such buyers as ‘fit lifters.’ Most of the time they check out the size and fitting in a brick-and-mortar store but ultimately order online. Ignoring such an act is detrimental to the long-term health of the conventional businesses. However, the majority of the progressive retailers offer this convenience to their customers and are eventually adapting their business to cater to non-linear buyers.

Shopping Malls are finding a New Life

Traditional malls are not going away anytime soon. However, the dynamics of what we have come to expect from the malls may be changing. There is still a fun and relaxing element in visiting malls during the weekend or during the holiday seasons. It is not just about shopping, but doing a lot of other activities that help people stay away from their professional pressure during the week days.

The ‘To-Do’ lists for the Traditional Merchants to Follow

  • Training salespersons to help customers make the right choice of merchandise. Every online retailer finds it difficult to compete on this parameter
  • Keep exclusive products in store that shoppers can’t get anywhere else
  • In-store retailers need to offer price comparison apps to shoppers in the store itself. This will give buyers a bird’s eye view of the prices and deals which are being offered by the eCommerce stores
  • Customers want guarantee of purchase. When customers know where they can come to get their complaints address, it inspires more confidence in them. To add to this advantage, stores should start offering extended warranty to customers on their purchases
  • One thing that is constantly changing is the buying behaviour. Ecommerce trend is influencing these millennials. Traditional retailers need to understand that the millennials are:
    • Occupied with smart devices that are loaded with apps and are always connected to the internet
    • They’re time-rich but cash poor
    • Always longing for personalized merchandise and promotional offers
    • Important part of online community
  • Today’s shoppers have become accustomed to doing their own research to gain the maximum value of every penny they spend, and also to feel secure about the purchases they’re making. This is a great opportunity for retailers, to those that may use tools and insights to close the gap between the online consumers and offline retailers
  • Retailers also need to engage cloud based solutions to collaborate the entire ecosystem with people like manufacturers, software vendors, resellers and other service providers.

Who’s the Winner?

According to Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google’s Senior Vice-President of ads and commerce, “consumers no longer see a distinction between online and offline shopping. Whether it’s searching on a laptop, browsing main street shops, or hanging out in the mall – it’s all shopping.”

When it is a question of which method of shopping is the winner, it comes down to individual preference. The majority of people seem to prefer a combination of the two. There’s no doubt that online shopping is convenient, but the time lag between your placing order and receiving it is anything but convenient. Nothing can replace being able to purchase straight away. So both online and traditional shopping are about even on this factor.

The biggest gain for in-store retailers is their ability to help customers make decisions based on significant differentiators between products including the feel, fit, smell, color and texture. No matter what it is, a physical presence will always allow people to better establish a brand. Most importantly, traditional businesses offer customer experiences that are difficult to replicate online.

Images: “Digital Online Marketing Commerce Sale Concept/


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Sumita Dasdutta

Sumita Dasdutta

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