Foreword Online

Ideas, information and industry news for collegiate retailers

Why Shopping Offline is More Appealing Than Some People Think

Posted by Joe Clarkin on 5/24/16 11:00 PM
Topics: college retail, brick and mortar stores

The rise of online retailers has swiftly changed the way brick-and-mortar stores operate. Not only do you have to worry about the store across the street, but these days you have to worry about retailers from all over the globe providing their goods and services through the convenience of the web. Now, reevaluating old marketing methods and finding creative new ways to bring customers into your building is crucial to the success of a college store in this web-infused market.

Shop Offline

Fortunately, there are statistics you can use to your advantage which show customers may be more willing to continue shopping in-store than we might have thought when eCommerce first became a legitimate tool.

There remains a perception that in-store shopping is generally cheaper than buying online. According to a survey performed by international research firm GfK, 56% of Internet users buy in-store to save money. Now, it may be true that your in-store prices are not actually cheaper than some popular eCommerce sites on certain items, but perception can often be more important than reality, and it’s your responsibility to show customers what they’re missing out on when they go online first.

One of the first things you’ll want to make note of is that there are certain aspects of in-store shopping that online shopping cannot match. You can’t reach out and touch the merchandise you’re considering buying online when at home on the computer. The statistics bear this out, as 51% of respondents to the previously mentioned survey reported that the opportunity to see and feel before buying played a role in their decisions.

Yet another factor in your favor is the personal customer service visitors receive when they set foot in a brick-and-mortar store. There is likely to be an employee who can answers their questions, make recommendations and simply make them feel welcome. When shopping at home or on a mobile device, customers are on their own without guidance. If you’re an online shopper yourself, you’ve probably ordered something that, upon receiving it, you noticed didn’t meet the expectations you had when it first came across the computer screen. That type of thing doesn’t happen when you shop in-store.

You were likely already aware of these advantages on some level, but it’s always nice when you have data to support your hunches. The next step then is to communicate the reasons why customers should continue to visit your store in a subtle but effect manner.

You can do that by playing up discounts and deals your store offers to continue giving the impression that customers will save money by shopping with you. For example, if you offer textbook loans or a have a price matching program, those are excellent examples of the types of services you’ll want to play up to your customers whether they’re in-store or checking out your website or social media accounts.

Encourage visitors to try on and interact with your merchandise to incentivize them to avoid shopping online. Then follow this up by creating a special promotion, like buy one, get one free, or another example that encourages customers to browse a multitude of products.

Yet another way brick-and-mortar stores can attract customers is by marketing your customer service to make people feel comfortable before they walk through your doors – college stores are in a unique position to do this successfully. Whether it’s explaining the different types of course materials available to students or providing services like study groups, tech support or anything else, the college store is able to provide a personalized experience that can’t be found online.

There are a lot of options at your disposal, and if you use them correctly, you won’t need to worry about those online retailers nearly as much anymore.

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