As online shopping becomes increasingly popular, traditional retail stores have begun to feel the pressure to compete. According to BigCommerce’s most recent study, 51% of Americans prefer to shop online. Meanwhile, e-commerce is growing at a rate of nearly 23% year over year. Despite this clear indicator of consumer interest, only 46% of businesses are currently operating online. What gives?
For many, this comes down to either cost constraints (i.e., they cannot afford the development or maintenance of an e-commerce website) or product inviability for online retail. This means that certain products can’t offer the lucrative appeal of online savings simply because the price differential between in-store and online is so small. For these items, consumers end up spending more online due to additional shipping charges and fees rather than scoring a sweet website-exclusive deal.
On the other hand, there are many businesses that do operate online, but have a much larger consumer base in the brick-and-mortar realm. For all players, one thing is certain: failing to provide a simple shopping solution to customers will only result in more affinity for online.
Meeting in the Middle
So how do these businesses keep pace with the growing need for consumer convenience? Especially when some of them have no capacity for shipping orders to consumers? In response, we’re seeing an adaptation in the form of a best-of-both-worlds compromise.
Physical locations have begun to offer the option of in-store pickup. This provides a convenient way for customers to order and pay online, only having to pick up their goods in person (sans the long aisle walks and checkout wait times). While this isn’t necessarily as simple as having products shipped directly to your door, it does offer some benefits that online shopping does not:
- Safer procurement of ordered items due to goods not being left on unattended doorsteps.
- Semi-immediate gratification if picking up from a nearby store, and if that store has your selections in stock.
- Increased convenience for purchases involving items not typically bought online, like groceries.
With the advent of online shopping services like Amazon, consumers are growing increasingly more accustomed to these hassle-free purchase experiences—making the conventional stroll through the strip mall a rare occurrence for younger, Internet-native consumers.
Examples of Current Order-Pickup Providers:
The Bottom Line
These services are, of course, just added benefits right now. However, if non online-centric businesses expect to compete, these service offerings may be crucial (and standard) in the future. The bigger question becomes: How far will the consumer envelope be pushed? And how will that evolution affect the way we sell? Only time will tell!
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