The War of Retail: Online vs Offline3 min read

The retail sector has been slowly redefined in recent years as people now have both online and offline options at their disposal. While online shopping offers the convenience of ordering products from the comfort of one’s home or elsewhere, offline shopping offers something else- instant gratification.

Although a considerable number of retailers have adopted an omnichannel strategy to combine the best of both worlds, there are still those who rely solely on their brick and mortar stores.

The question is, who will win this retail war?

It is essential to consider the pros of both options before settling on an answer. Online shopping does hold an edge over in-store experiences in terms of drop dead discounts, ease of access, customized/personalized suggestions and the sheer number of options available.

What brick and mortar stores hold to their advantage is that tangible connection with the product, a sense of discovery on finding the perfect purchase, and the euphoria that arises from having obtained instant gratification. But, ecommerce sales today have soared putting several physical stores out of business because of the variety and ease they bring to the table; no long queues at checkout, no hunting for jeans your size from a huge rack, more within the budget because of the discounts involved. Studies by statista show that worldwide retail ecommerce sales is set to scale around 4.88 trillion USD!

Despite their edge over brick and mortar stores, online retailers have not yet risen to their full potential owing to one serious drawback- that slight discernible lag between ordering a product and receiving it. Make no mistake, that is being ruthlessly overcome by industry giants like Amazon with the introduction of one day and two-day shipping for free. Thousands of retailers are yet to catch up, thereby suffering crippling losses due to increasing shipping costs.

This can be easily overcome by increasing the last mile delivery efficiency and optimizing your shipping strategy. Making the shipping process fully transparent to customers is another factor that will aid in increased customer retention and loyalty. Negotiating the best deals with your shipping carrier will also enable your business to offer better shipping options to customers based on their needs.

The ongoing competition between Walmart and Amazon goes to prove how both online and offline presence is necessary for the overall growth of a business.

Walmart has expanded its online business and increased sales over 60%, while Amazon has steadily entered the brick and mortar game by acquiring Whole Foods and establishing Amazon books (which is unlike any other bookstore).

Considering the essence of online and offline retail, the best idea to succeed in this highly competitive industry would be to adopt an omnichannel strategy that uses both to the best of their advantage.

An interesting example of an effective omnichannel strategy is Nike’s new idea to create customized shoes in store in less than 90 minutes. Though they do offer customizations online as well, the product would take a month to reach the customer that way. This new strategy would not only bring in more customers to their physical stores but also enable customers to connect with other new launches they might want to try.

Imagine an experience where customers get the tangible feeling of shopping in store, combined with the ease and affordability of shopping online. If done right, that is exactly what an omnichannel approach can bring your business.

To win the retail war, or rather battle, your business needs the combined powers of traditional and online retail strategies. Here’s to the anticipated winner, omnichannel!


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