We founded Atomic on the premise that DRTV drives sales through all channels – what has now become known as “Omnichannel”. After all, customers will buy through the channel that is most comfortable and convenient for them – quite often at a physical store.
Yet since 1997 we’ve been pestered by waves of enthusiasm for the idea that digital commerce will destroy brick and mortar. But that didn’t happen in 1997. Or 1998. Or 2001. Or 2007. And it isn’t happening today – despite the next wave of e-commerce mania in the press.
So we were pleased to read a recent blog post by Steven Dennis (former Senior Vice President of Strategy, Business Development and Marketing for the Neiman Marcus Group) on the important strengths brick and mortar can leverage. While many believe the virtual world will overtake retail stores, Dennis observes “…assuming that physical retail is going away any time soon is just plain wrong,” After all:
• Brick and Mortar enhances value proposition: i.e. the ability to see and try before you buy
• Many companies that started off as purely e-commerce have been forced to open physical stores
• Consumers still exists who enjoy buying in store vs. over the internet
• Consumers need the confidence to know they can buy wherever they want. Many hop back and forth between online and in store – meaning frictionless commerce is essential
Dennis doesn’t deny that the format at retail needs a change. He suggests that retailers can get away with fewer and smaller stores (we’re not entirely convinced with this specific – but it’s an intriguing idea). And consumers respond to physical shopping.
The key is to blend your channels: utilize branding and distribution across all channels while making things easy for the consumer. As Dennis puts it, “The blended channel is the only channel”.
So while retailers are dumping huge resources into building their digital capabilities (important investments), here at Atomic we believe it is critical to remember that consumers (yes, of ALL ages) still enjoy going to the store and will continue to enjoy stores for decades to come.
It is ever more important that, while investing in digital, retailers take care not to throw out their single biggest advantage: physical stores.
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