While potentially counterintuitive at first blush, “bricks and clicks” can happily coexist under the same banner, particularly for retailers of big-ticket items like furniture. In a lot of cases, online shoppers are already using physical locations to try out pieces of furniture, then going home and shopping online to find the best price. As frustrating as you might think this is, it is one of the primary reasons you should be using e-commerce to bolster your brick and mortar sales.
Alleviates Credibility Concerns
While the internet may have put a significant dent in traditional retailing, it turns out there are things shopping virtually will not satisfy. Chief amongst them, many customers still have a certain amount of trepidation about making a large purchase from a company they have never seen. You eliminate that concern with a brick and mortar location serving as the foundation of your ecommerce presence. This can be quite profitable too. A recent study by Smart Insights found these “omnichannel” consumers tend to spend 3.5 times more.
People Like Touching Things
“Shoppers will always want to touch, feel, and experience a product in the flesh before they purchase it,” Zoё Kelly, planning director at Vivid, a shopper marketing agency, told The Guardian. “They might use digital to research and narrow down their choice, but when it comes to paying, they want to see it in the flesh and make sure it is the right choice.”
With this in mind, you can use your online presence to draw physical shoppers into your store. “Old-school” retailers like J.C. Penney, Nordstrom, and Macy’s are leveraging their brick and mortar operations in this fashion, allowing shoppers to buy online and pick up items in the store. This also fulfills the human desire for instant gratification, as customers can go get their purchases the same day if they would like, which also eliminates shipping costs.
When you open a furniture store, you are going to get a lot of people who just want to see how a sofa sits, how tall that barstool is in actuality, and whether or not that mattress really is as comfortable as sleeping in the arms of an angel. Your brick and mortar location will provide them with the opportunity to do so and give you an opportunity to draw them to your ecommerce presence for the actual purchase. After all, most furniture has to be delivered anyway. You can have online-only exclusives, as well as in-store exclusives. If an item is a really hot seller, you can use it to lure shoppers into the store to make the purchase by making it an in-store item only — at an irresistible price.
Amazon Has Figured This Out
Ironically, this “clicks and bricks” strategy is now being employed by one of the last retailers you would expect to see put it into play. Amazon, the online behemoth considered singularly responsible for relegating the neighborhood bookstore to near irrelevancy, has now started opening brick and mortar locations. Among the reasons cited: physical locations give shoppers the opportunity to try out its Kindle e-readers and streaming TV service, as well as its Echo and Alexa products. The company is also experimenting with automating the traditional retail experience with its Amazon Go checkout-free shopping environment.
Interestingly, with that development, retail’s embrace of bricks and clicks brings shopping full circle. While e-commerce relentlessly battered traditional retailing in its earliest days, smart retailers have figured out the two sales channels can actually be complementary. Using ecommerce to bolster brick and mortar sales could well be the edge you need to make your furniture store more profitable.