Physical retail and e-commerce: why balancing online and offline is a matter of survival
Just a few years ago, the proliferation and affordability of e-commerce took its toll. However, only web-based business models have reached their limits over time. E-commerce players were beginning to lose customers looking for a more traditional in-store shopping experience: in 2017, while the Internet remains a key business driver, e-commerce must not rely solely on a virtual experience. To remain attractive, online and offline models that once competed must converge to survive. Online and offline businesses are entering the enemy economy, where collaboration goes hand in hand with competition. Aggressive special offers and other incentives like Black Friday or special sales during the holiday season are no longer enough. To remain sustainable, both business models need to be rethought.
Survival in a converging economy
The acquisition of Whole Foods by Amazon and the Whole Foods-Google alliance were two significant announcements in the summer of 2017. These two strategic alliances are emblematic of the need to rethink business processes and ensure growth in an era where business models are undergoing profound and insightful changes.
E-commerce was once a major nuisance to the retail industry, but today the discipline itself is under pressure from players managing to make the most of traditional and online shopping. This is why hybrid models are created to meet the needs of customers who are always looking for innovation. Brands that only cling to their traditional business model lose ground to their competitors as they hesitate to adopt strategies that focus on what becomes the cornerstone of a successful business strategy: customer experience.
WiFi – a powerful tool to bridge the gap between online and offline
Consumers’ traditional habits of in-store shopping have not been abolished by the Internet. When retailers realized the internet was becoming mainstream, they began employing a strategy to steal market share from their online counterparts. However, this has now subsided. These days, neither side is forced to compete with each other as they can collaborate productively and complement each other.
The online market has every incentive to introduce physical stores while allowing retailers to take advantage of the internet at their point of sale (PoS or point of sale). WiFi makes this possible. A business asset, a means of customer loyalty and a powerful proximity marketing tool, WiFi paves the way for a “phygital” model that harnesses the best of both worlds to create a targeted and unified end-to-end customer experience. . WiFi should no longer be seen as a cost center, but rather as a real asset that can provide an effective strategy to extend the reach of any branded content to qualified prospects. The goal is really to break away from mass marketing and focus instead on improving customer knowledge and more consistent targeting of each customer.
Online and offline businesses are no longer contradictory models, they complement each other. The real challenge for any brand is to successfully combine the two channels to improve the experience of all customers and make it smoother, more rewarding and stronger. It’s time to ditch mass marketing and get back to basics: personalized follow-up with every shopper that’s the ultimate way for retailers to expand their offering while delivering the in-store experience customers want.