Rather like some pundits predicted the demise of the printed books when e-readers became widely available, some doubted whether traditional storefront retailers might suffer a similar fate when the internet started to take over our lives.
Neither doomsday scenario has materialized, but the so-called brick and mortar stores have had to evolve and update their marketing methods in order to adapt to the new challenges of attracting customers to their store.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday
There is no pint denying that the retail landscape has changed when you look at the phenomenal success of created online events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Many of us probably participated in these marketing-made events and this explains why an estimated six million less U.S shoppers hitting the shopping malls over the 2014 Thanksgiving weekend, according to the National Retail Federation.
Over half of us use a mobile device to research products at home and nearly 40% of us routinely check store availability while on their way to a store, which are figures that highlight that brick and mortar retailers face online challenges but are also presented with online opportunities to co-exist as well.
Referring back to the examples of printed books, you get a valuable sales lesson which can be transferred to the retail environment.
Just as customers still enjoy the experience of buying and reading a physical book despite the availability of the same words in an electronic format, the same feelings apply to retail shoppers who still enjoy the anticipation and excitement of a store visit.
This is where store retailers have to press home their advantage and turn their shop into a destination that people want to visit in the physical world rather than making a few clicks on their smartphone to buy an item that they would rather touch and see as part of the buying experience.
Drawing customers in
The art of attracting customers is a multi-faceted skill but brick and mortar retailers need to press home the advantage they have over cyberspace in one respect and yet use the medium of the internet as well.
Take the example of a business such as ISOStainless.com. They can use their website to provide detailed product descriptions and specifications in a way that is relevant to their type of business.
Retailers can use the same approach if they have limited retail space or want to give their customers more information, by providing a website which supports their store retail operation and even gives customers the chance to click and collect if they want to.
Click and collect is a great example of how retailers are adapting and is growing in popularity with customers.
Being able to browse online and then reserve an item to pick up in store is a great way of two retail methods combining to give the customer a better shopping experience and it also gives the brick and mortar retailer an edge, because they then have a customer in their store who may decide to make additional purchases while they are there.
Brick and mortar retailers simply need to embrace the digital technology to enhance their own business prospects rather than fearing the threat of events like Cyber Monday when they come around.
Steve Smith is an import/export investor. He writes about his trading experiences on the web. His posts can be found business and financial sites.