A few years back when e-commerce really started to take off, some people feared that it was the end of the line for traditional retail. But in reality that has not happened. Traditional retail has survived but it has also had to modify itself to fit into a world where e-commerce is perhaps the biggest player in the retail space.
Traditional Retail’s Response To E-commerce
As e-commerce slowly started eating away at the market share of traditional retailers they realized that it was no longer possible to stay aloof from the digital sphere. Now, most traditional retailers have their own online platforms for e-commerce. They are blending their traditional and digital sales to create a successful business model.
Exclusively e-commerce based brands are being given a run for their money by well-established and well-loved traditional brands that are now entering the online retailing space.
But it is not only the business model that traditional retailers are emulating, even the business operation strategies of e-commerce retailers are being imitated by traditional sellers.
Lessons for traditional retailers from the world of e-commerce
???? Product knowledge – e-commerce has created a trend where customers almost always check multiple product reviews before committing to a purchase. These reviews act as information sources for the quality of the product and its usage. But this opportunity was missing in traditional retail and made it harder for them to convince buyers to make purchases on newer unfamiliar products. So now even traditional retailers have started to use customer reviews in their advertising campaigns. Even product packaging now contains some reviews to highlight the advantages of the product.
???? Business intelligence- in e-commerce the customer’s basic personal information and their contact data are stored in the business’s database. This data can be analyzed to find out what kind of products customers are interested in and who the target audience of the business is. This helps to create targeted marketing and sales strategies. But in traditional commerce, there was usually no attempt to collect customer data. Now traditional retailers are also doing customer surveys to collect information from their clients. They are using their online shopping branch as well to collect customer data for proper business analytics and intelligence.
Just like e-commerce retailers, traditional retailers are now also marketing on social media in order to build their brand identity and provide customer knowledge.
???? Variety of payment methods- the proliferation of e-commerce has led to a situation where most customers have stopped carrying much cash around with them. This has led to traditional retail establishments abandoning their cash-only policy and introducing a variety of payment methods. Card payments, digital wallets, and scan and pay options are now available at almost every physical retail establishment.
???? Speed- e-commerce shopping takes just a few minutes. There is no need to travel to a particular space and stand in long queues at the cash counter. So in order to keep up with the high speed of shopping on online platforms, traditional retail stores have also started to introduce methods to speed up their sales process. Many stores now have self-checkout kiosks as well as floating employees with card swipe machines and QR codes so that customers can make their purchases as quickly as possible. If retail stores are able to quicken the shopping process then they have an advantage over e-commerce because in a traditional store the customer gets their product immediately after payment and they do not have to wait for delivery.
Traditional retail has struggled to survive in the face of competition from e-commerce. It has lost market share to e-commerce but traditional retail is still surviving and many brands are still customer favorites with years of experience and reputation behind this brand loyalty. The biggest lesson for business owners in the 21st century is that the digital sphere can no longer be ignored. In order to build a successful business at least partial integration with online shopping has become essential for all retailers.