In 2020, showing what you sell online was no longer a “nice to have” but a necessity amid brick-and-mortar shutdowns. Customers have since become accustomed to nearly every product or service being attainable online, whether it’s the purchasing of the product or purely its availability. All of which has ushered in 2021’s underlying question that customers will ask: “I know the product I want to buy. Now, where do I buy it?”
We have become spoiled with options, whether it’s the choice of the product itself, or where and how we can purchase said product. If I am a post-pandemic business, e-commerce is the clear and easy answer when questioning which space I need to be in today. “You need to be selling online!” is screamed across every marketing blog. While 100% true, this doesn’t only mean building a full-blown e-commerce storefront. Connecting your inventory and figuring out fulfillment is a process, especially if you are operating with a distributed network or franchisee model responsible for selling your products. According to eMarketer, this is okay because consumers are still buying in-store even though they are finding the product online.
Data from Black Friday purchases shows that:
What does this mean for distributed business models?
There is an evident shift toward providing customers with the easiest user experience to see what you have and how or where they can buy it. Selling online doesn’t necessarily require your POS to be online; it can mean many things when it comes to your online marketing strategy in 2021. For example, “Available Near Me” searches are up 100% YOY, which shows that users are willing to pick up the product in-store if it means convenience comes with it, and in this case, the convenience factor is time.
Available in-store purchases are also heavily dictated by the product and the impact it has on a consumer’s day-to-day or quality of life. Take mattress manufacturers for example – 45% of all mattress purchases happen in store. Why? Because people want to try before they buy. The same reason why Purple – the online mattress giant – is now putting beds in 1,500 stores across the nation.
How can retailers capitalize?
In today’s digitally accelerated world, taking the first step to grow and scale your sales can be difficult, but it’s a requirement to keep up with the competition. Consumers are looking online more than ever before, and the key to success is meeting them where they are in their purchasing journey. As the gap between eCommerce and brick and mortar continues to widen, so does the playing field.