The Intersection of Brick & Mortar and eCommerce

A question that has always got me thinking in the world of eCommerce is: How can online shopping better replicate the experience of being in-store? For those who love to shop, the sights, sounds and smells are a quintessential part of the experience. For those who hate to shop, avoiding the sensory overload of the mall is exactly what online shopping provides — an escape!

But I commiserate with those who live for the shopping experience; when you’re shopping online, you can avoid the crowds but you lose the tactility of the shopping experience. As a female shopper, I miss the ability to touch and try on clothing while online shopping. I have to be extra careful that I have my measurements correct and be aware what clothing shapes suit me best and rely on the images of the product the site provides.

But there are numerous ways that online shops are working to bridge the gap between the worlds of online shopping and brick and mortar and they normally involve making the customer experience that much better. Here are two great ways to alleviate customers frustrations.

Hint: They involve alleviating the stress of waiting and dealing with couriers!

1. Amazing Return Policies

Having a great return policy and return shipping procedure set up is the first step towards amazing customer service. The easier a retailer makes shipping returns, the more likely a consumer will return for more buys! There’s no worry that if the shoe doesn’t fit, you’re stuck with it. This is a particular asset for online retailers who sell apparel.

2. Pick Up in Store

Having the option to pick up an item in store is a great way to have your customers save on shipping. This is a great option for online retailers who have physical stores and online shops. Now, not every online retailer can compete with the beast that is Amazon, but even Amazon has got into the local pick-up game. Amazon has started to install ‘Amazon lockers’ in brick and mortar stores across the US, and they recently partnered with Staples to install lockers in select locations in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York.

Right now online only retailers need to stick to solid digital strategies to convert carts. However, as the eCommerce industry continues to grow my guess is that finding a balance between the tactility of shopping and the online convenience of shopping online will only reap benefits for e-tailers.