Brick and mortar is making a comeback, and actually has been proven to boost online sales significantly. Because experience is becoming more and more important to consumers, occupying a physical space is key. Yes, a storefront is expensive, but luckily, pop-ups are providing the same solution that food trucks and farmers markets have brought to the food and restaurant industries.
For the past decade, the internet has provided a chance for anyone to become an entrepreneur, but as the pond gets bigger and bigger, it has also made it hard to stand out. With its low start-up costs and flexibility, the internet is a great place to start, but when your social media following hits plateaus and your online sales are steady, it’s time to move into the three-dimensional world while momentum is still building.
A Brick & Mortar Location Increases Online Sales
A study by British Land shows that small businesses with physical locations see huge increases in their online sales. Businesses with fewer than 30 stores saw an average increase of 84% in web traffic from their local customers.
Opening a physical location is a big commitment. That’s what makes it so effective.
“Consumers choose brands that align to their lifestyle and values: a physical store enables a retailer to demonstrate its brand in action and drive interest online. At the same time, stores enable retailers to respond to evolving shopping habits, market their brand effectively, and deliver products more efficiently.” – Charles Maudsley, Head of Retail, Leisure & Residential for British Land
A Pre-Brick Foundation
A physical presence in the right location provides its own advertising and allows you to build your brand, and now there’s a step between online and full-on storefront that still keeps the momentum climbing.
Pop-up shops are temporary locations that give customers a place to see and touch your products and experience your brand first-hand. These allow you to have a seasonal or spontaneous physical location. If you promote the pop-up shop on your social media well in advance (with a coupon or promotion for your followers), they can be a great way to build up to a permanent storefront. Successful pop-ups can also show investors and lenders that your business shows promise. Search for temporary spaces online at This Open Space or The Storefront, or contact local events and businesses that match your demographics to find out about putting up a booth.
Too Legit to Quit
Online-only retail does have its benefits, but it also has drawbacks in terms of legitimacy, both to the consumer and the owner. A customer may buy something he or she loves on a website, but a year or even a month later there’s no guarantee that the site will still exist. There’s no space for a meaningful consumer relationship. The fact that online-only is low-risk can be seen as a pro, but something that is so easy to set up is also easily abandoned.
Of course, storefronts are not guarantees of longevity, but if you want a long-lasting brand, you need to commit it to a long-lasting structure. Business owners who make the financial and mental commitment to storefronts show, well, that they mean business.