E-commerce has a unique need for brick-and-mortar stores

by Tony Fannin, President, BE Branded  |

It’s becoming a business cliche, “Best Buy is a show room for Amazon.” It’s kind of funny and very true. The data supports the belief that more and more buying is being conducted online. Brick-and-mortar stores are struggling to get customers in the door (one exception is Apple). What is interesting about the trend of people using physical stores as a show room for their online purchases, is it proves people STILL need to touch and feel before buying. They don’t want to buy on blind faith, regardless of the price or that shipping is free. People still want to try things out, touch it to see how it feels, or put it on to see how it fits.

The challenge for brick-and-mortar stores is how to carry that tactile experience through to a purchase decision. One of the main things is to offer a great brand experience within the store. Apple has been able to do this. They currently pull in about $5,000 per square foot. That’s huge. The closest second place is Tiffany’s which sells about $2,700 per square foot. Even that is enormous. Both of these are examples of a great brand experience in the store. Yes, you can buy both online. There are hundreds of online retailers selling Apple products, but none come close to matching the success of the brick-and-mortar Apple stores. The reason, these stores offer a unique brand experience that can’t be duplicated just clicking the order button. That leaves an empty, hollow feeling devoid of the joy and experience of being in the store, talking with other Apple devotees, and playing with the new products on display. It’s this tactile experience that can’t be duplicated by online retailers.

This means brands need to offer more than just the stuff. If that’s all you do, then you’ll end up being a show room for your online counterpart. In essence, you end up being a commodity. Now there are some things that most people would rather buy online, like music. Even with music, you are able to “experience” it before you buy. When it comes to physical goods, it’s hard to substitute the feeling you get when you get to actually handle the products, play with it, and feel it.

If you’re an e-commerce business, your efforts need to be on how can you deliver an experience that can rival that of an Apple Store or a Tiffany’s? What can you build in that gives people an “experience” beyond just clicking a button? How can you deliver the joy of experience shopping?

Regardless if a business is online or a brick-and-mortar, they must deliver a superior, emotional experience. That is how humans actually shop and buy. If you believe people buy based on logic, then I believe you’re the one that may be illogical.



About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

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