Why E-Commerce Shops Should Consider Brick-and-Mortar Retail Space: New Jersey Realtors Explain
As an E-commerce store owner, you know e-commerce is the future. Take the classical example of Amazon, which reached 100 million Prime Members this year! Physical retail stores have been the topic of controversy, and mind you – concern, in these past few years. It’s been called the “retail apocalypse” – the death of physical retail stores and the birth and dominance of e-commerce stores. Is e-commerce a real threat to the retail space in NJ and the shop owners occupying it? New Jersey Realtors and data disagree.
More and more e-commerce shops are opening up, and the general perception seems to be that people are starting to prefer the commodity of ordering food, clothing, and electronics with the simple click of a button. They can do their shopping quickly, in a break from work, in a break from helping the kids with their homework, or simply while relaxing on their living room couch.
However, despite this amazingly high number of 100 million Prime Members, the world wondered why the decision of Amazon to acquire the brick-and-mortar Whole Foods, and the opening of its own brick-and-mortar retail shop and book store. What’s that all about? Why would such a powerful and dominant e-commerce company invest in expanding to brick-and-mortar stores?
What is the reality – are we really in the midst of a brick-and-mortar apocalypse?
Let us tell you, things are not how they seem. Brick-and-mortar retail stores still matter more than you think! The same goes for retail space in NJ. The shopping experience with the birth of e-commerce is not killing physical stores, however it is merging the two spaces: digital and physical turning into a wider and fuller experience for customers. According to a study, we now have the Halo Effect: How Bricks Impact Clicks. This study has concurred that once a new brick-and-mortar store opens up, there is a 37% average increase in web traffic to the store’s e-commerce website. Also, if you are thinking of closing down your physical store – your online shop will suffer, as traffic will drop.
Why do brick-and-mortar stores still matter so much?
Despite being so easy to purchase online, it’s not necessarily very enjoyable. You can’t take a friend with you shopping online. He might stare at your phone for a few seconds while you do it, but we doubt the two of you will have much fun. As an online customer you can’t see, touch or smell the product – a lot of book lovers really enjoy smelling the pages of a book they are about to purchase or have just purchased. People love touching products – and hate the “no touch” signs that some more valuable or fragile items have. You want to feel it before buying it. You want to sit down on the sofa to see how comfortable it is, before committing to having it in your home. You want to try out the piece of clothing to make sure every inch of it fits you perfectly. This isn’t just our opinion, there is data behind it.
Rutgers University’s Online Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration took on the challenge of figuring out if, and how much, brick-and-mortar stores still matter, and they do! If they do, so does the retail space in NJ. The notion that customers still want to touch and feel products is demonstrated by the below image, part of their study infographic.
There are plenty of reasons why customers still prefer brick-and-mortar stores to e-commerce stores. As a physical retail store customer you’ll avoid delivery fees, and you’ll have it immediately instead of in a few hours, days or weeks. And the difference in frequency is just as significant, also in favor of brick-and-mortar: 27% of customers shop online every week as opposed to 40% of customers who shop weekly in a physical store.
On top of that, in physical retail stores you get the real deal. The real experience with the brand – from seeing and feeling their products, to the decoration and ambiance they create for their store conveying its personality, to the contact you have with the staff working in the store. All of this gives you a sense about the product and the brand from which you are about to buy. Plus, you get to live it in real life – which is still nice. The customer gets to actually connect to all that the brand and the product is while in one of its brick-and-mortar stores. “They become a part of the family, so to speak, and this has become a part of the organization’s culture” says Kimberly Lewis, CEO of Goodwill Industries of East Texas
The future is combining e-commerce stores with brick-and-mortar stores
We mentioned above the Halo Effect: how opening physical retail stores actually drives up traffic to the e-commerce websites. We also mentioned how, despite the fact that Amazon has reached a number of 100 million Prime members, it bought Whole Foods, opened up its own physical retail store and Amazon Books store. And it is not just Amazon. Shopify, another huge e-commerce platform, opened up its first physical store in L.A.
Besides all the perks that brick-and-mortar still have in favor of online shopping, the conversation is now about omnichannel experiences. The customer journey goes something like this: the customer searches online for a product, finds it, goes to the store for the full experience and then either decides on the spot to purchase it or can buy it online at a later time or come back to the store for the purchase. Other big brands such as Nike and Home Depot have added lockers where the customer can go and pick-up their online purchase. Human beings want it all, the virtual and the real. And it is already the present and the future!
Retail space in NJ – the same applies!
Even though worldwide many stores are either e-commerce or brick-and-mortar, including in New Jersey, the future will catch up with all of us – and that future, from the data we currently have, pinpoints to combining e-commerce websites with physical brick-and-mortar stores to give your customers the full experience they need and want.
In all reality, New Jersey is already keeping up with the times on the retail experience. According to Joe Cutter, a poll of retail tenants from a North Plainfield-based management company finds the most positive results in the six-year history of the poll. These latest poll announces 70% of retail tenants say sales are just as good or even better than they have been last year, in 2017.
How did they do this? They have mixed owning retail space in NJ and having it set up as a brick-and-mortar store with upcoming marketing and technology. They have mixed the virtual with the real, just like some of the above-mentioned big brands: Amazon, Nike, Home Depot. Around 4 in 10 NJ businesses have now the option to pick up an online bought product in their brick-and-mortar store. While 1 in 3 are working at and have bettered linking their e-commerce and physical retail space for a more fulfilling customer experience. They have it both: e-commerce and brick-and-mortar, and the customer gets it all.
Take for example, New Jersey’s own Boll & Branch, who just last year opened up their first retail space in NJ, before being a successful e-commerce only business for the past 3 years. You walk in and you find the typical retail store – a nicely decorated shop, products displayed and the staff ready for any questions or helping hand. However, they changed it up a bit, and if you buy the product it will be shipped to you. You can’t pick it up in the store. As if it was only e-commerce. Each business tries and finds what works for them and their customers.
The main rationale for Boll & Branch is the human rationale, that we, as humans, still like to touch and feel the products we are buying. According to Scott Tannen, co-founder and CEO of Boll & Branch, they opened up the brick-and-mortar store because there was a decrease in online purchases due to their clients not being able to touch and feel their products. “We are remedying that with our physical location.” Says Scott.
Let your customers have it all – and a bit of New Jersey
If you are an only e-commerce business, let us help you. Blau & Berg can help you give your customers the full experience, the experience of the future. Not only the digital experience, but the live in-store experience. Where you can show them who you are as a brand, and let them connect with your product and your staff – your main store representatives. Also, by making your customers get out of the house and come up to your brick-and-mortar store, you’re allowing them to re-experience or experience for the first time, New Jersey and it diversity. Did you know New Jersey has been ranked the second-most diverse city in America?
We also promise to get you the best deal on a retail space in NJ and the tri-state area, while looking for it to be the best location fit for your business. Get in touch with us, Blau & Berg, today!