Brick and mortar is passé. Customers want the convenience of online shopping. A large staff of experienced sales people to help customers on-site is no longer necessary. Apparently, these statements are false and companies eager to increase their revenues and bottom line profitability need to get back to where their customers are still shopping: in the store.
Recently, a front-page article in the Wall Street Journal, After Decades of Toil, Web Sales Remain Small for Many Retailers, highlighted online sales from Target, Wal-Mart, PetSmart and Fifth & Pacific Companies. While some of these corporations were touting their Internet sales performance to the public, when pressed by the Securities and Exchange Commission to breakout web purchases separately, the results were relatively insignificant compared to overall sales. Wal-Mart web purchases were 5.8%, Target reported sales of less than 2%, and PetSmart not even 1%.
Companies need to rethink how they can continue to make customers feel even more welcomed, appreciated and important when they visit their places of business. If online sales are such a small part of overall revenues after decades, there is a reason. A majority of consumers still want to see, touch and feel the merchandise they want to purchase. And, that’s a good thing.
Use that face-to-face opportunity to create a customer relationship, not destroy it. Have a conversation with your customers, not ignore them. Let them know their business is appreciated and you want to see and help them again. The numbers have spoken; the physical store is not dead. Go back to investing in creating more effective retail interactions that will insure repeat business.
When the notorious bank robber, Willie Sutton, was asked why he robbed banks, he answered, “because that’s where the money is.” Put your dollars into staffing your stores; that’s where your customers are.