Add to Cart – The Pros and Pitfalls of Online and Brick and Mortar Shopping
With all of the concern given to the constant news of brick and mortar stores closing, I felt the need to turn to our own staff – many of them millennials – to find out how much they truly enjoy purchasing online, and how much of it is truly just hype. Turns out there’s a healthy mix of both spectrums – everyone shops, regardless of how.
When I asked what would make the online shopping experience better, I got some interesting answers. Besides the typical multi-view and multi-color options, as well as easy-zoom, one recent graduate mentioned the ability to see the total dollars in the cart instead of the just the number of items. Genius, if you ask me, and so helpful to those on a budget (and who isn’t these days?) Another good answer is real and fair reviews. Amazon should take note because nobody really likes those “I was paid for my fair evaluation” review. If anything, today’s online customer is increasingly skeptical of what they read online.
Not everyone prefers to shop online all the time and for everything, although everyone does for certain purchases. Our youngest associate prefers to shop in brick and mortar stores for almost everything because she likes to actually see and touch what she is considering to purchase. And now that she’s spending her own money, she is much pickier. Another co-worker, a millennial mom, says she likes to purchase her kids’ clothes online, but only if there is a brick and mortar location nearby for easy returns in case clothes don’t fit. Why online for her? It’s just easier than carting around kids the way her parents did. If people can find all of the information they need, and receive either free or 2-day shipping and easy returns on top of it, the barrier to shop online is much easier to surmount.
What can brick and mortar stores do better to get people back in their doors? As one millennial employee states, keeping it organized is key. You want to get in and easily find what you need. A store like Charming Charlie is appealing to her because it’s all organized according to color, which is much easier than combing through countless racks of clothes in a big store like Forever 21, for example. Time is very valuable to people these days and most find a poor or limited selection to be a major deterrent.
Fast checkouts were also very high on the list as being desirable, as well as being able to speak to very knowledgeable sales staff. Just like retailers offer online-only special pieces, the vice versa should be considered to get people in brick and mortar stores for something they won’t be able to buy online. Also the ability to order things you do want to purchase online and pick up at the store seamlessly. The rise of Kroger’s Click List model for buying groceries is helping to pave the way for others to follow suit to cut the time spent waiting in a line to become much shorter. Another thing that would be great to consider would be for stores to allow you to shop online for clothing, for example, and pick out pieces that are available in a brick and mortar store, and add to a dressing room. These items could be held for a short period of time in a special place in the store so you could come In and sign in and then go right to the dressing room to try them on, thus cutting down the amount of time spent in the store going through racks of clothes.
When I asked everyone why they feel their shopping habits have changed over the years, besides the obvious rise of technology, it came down primarily to time. Most stated they don’t have as much downtime as they used to, and the time they do have is not something they want to spend shopping. Hey, they don’t even want to spend the time getting their wallet if a website doesn’t store their payment information! It will be interesting to see how brick and mortar store models continue to multi and omni-channel to evolve and allow for the needs and desires of today’s ever-changing consumer.