“I shop, therefore I am,” said Barbara Kruger once. And we have to admit that we shop not only to buy basic goods but to reduce stress, socialize, make a surprise for a loved one, and so much more. Shopping is a whole social experience, and even global events like the coronavirus pandemic and the inflation we’re witnessing cannot stop shoppers.
So let’s treat ourselves to this article in which we’ll explore retail and e-commerce practices, the difference between online retail stores and physical stores, and business trends we need to keep up with in 2023.
Retail Vs. E-Commerce
When we talk about shopping, two words come to mind. Retail and e-commerce, of course! But do you know what these terms mean?
Retail is defined as the sale of goods and services sold to the end customer, either directly (e.g., door-to-door sales), in a physical store (e.g., brick-and-mortar stores), or through other channels (e.g., online platforms).
From art and furniture to clothing and shoes to electronics and food, the variety of products is simply astonishing – with retail transactions taking place across discount stores, department stores, warehouse stores, and more. In the US alone, retail businesses account for 2.9 million, with 9.8 million people employed in the sector.
E-commerce, on the other hand, is a form of retail, which specifically describes the sale of goods and services online. Interestingly, the first official online transaction happened in 1993 when a man sold a CD to his friend through the popular website NetMarket. Exactly 30 years ago!
Nowadays, businesses (including small shops and big institutions) benefit from a myriad of e-commerce practices, employing one of the four prevalent e-commerce models: B2C, B2B, C2C, and C2B. Because let’s not forget that e-commerce is not only about physical goods but services, subscriptions, digital products (e.g., online courses), and more! No wonder the industry might grow to over $8 trillion in the next few years.
Will Online Shopping Replace Traditional Shopping?
Now that we know what retail and e-commerce practices consist of, can we say that online shopping will replace traditional shopping and traditional payment methods? Well, first, let’s explore the pros and cons of both physical stores and online shops.
From Harrods to Walmart, retail stores come in all shapes and sizes to help consumers from all walks of life find what they need. But can you guess what they share in common? When visiting a store, consumers not only buy but interact. Even studies show that retail therapy is real! Besides, brick-and-mortar stores allow shoppers to touch products, try clothes and shoes, talk with shop assistants, and share social experiences. Did you know that, in fact, tactical experiences are vital? Though it can be more costly to open a physical store than an online one, people seem more satisfied with products bought in-store. For example, only 9% of items bought in-store are returned compared to 20% of items purchased online. Oh, and let’s not forget that physical stores also bring convenience – you no longer have to wait for your delivery but you can get what you want NOW.
At the same time, it’s a fact that shopping can be stressful, especially around the holidays. Many people lack the time and energy to go shopping to find the best deal; they may not even find what they need. And on top of that, we all know that often you have to pay for transportation to get to the shop of your choice! So, once again, can online shops replace physical stores?
Online Retail Stores
Online retail stores, on the other hand, offer a whole different experience. You can compare brands, stores, and prices and can avoid the hustle and bustle of busy places. Thanks to all the information online, today’s customer is well-informed, for sure. The best part is that many online shops offer discounts or free delivery for first-time buyers, which helps retail e-commerce sales keep booming further.
Unfortunately, online stores come with their own cons. Delays, refunds, fake shops, or stolen bank details – no surprise some users still feel uncomfortable with online shopping. So can online shopping replace physical stores?
The truth is that though many businesses moved online during the pandemic, physical stores are here to stay. The way we shop is different from how we used to decades ago. And it’s omnichannel shopping where the industry is heading.
Omnichannel retail is a curious practice that describes the use of different strategies and channels that put customers first. This can include unique methods, online and traditional marketing used by physical stores and online stores, and much more. Some examples include:
- Purchase online and pick up in-store
- Online brands to try in traditional physical stores
- Mobile-first experiences
- Targeted ads and improved data collection
- Deals and coupons
- Personalized experiences
- Improved customer service
- Attractive social media presence
- Better customer relationships
- Influencer marketing
- Flexible financial services
Sounds great, right? But is it for you?
Retail & E-Commerce | Business Tips
While it’s up to you (your products, budget, and goals), whether to open a physical or an online store or focus on omnichannel retail, experts agree that in the end, three things matter the most to help you succeed:
Excellent customer service and positive reviews:
To start with, the importance of customer service and positive reviews should become your priority in 2023.
As Ben Kuhl, Kitchen Remodeler & CEO of Shelf Expression, says: “As an e-commerce business, we’ve noticed that towards the end of 2022, the importance of customer service and positive reviews in boosting conversion rates has really risen. With so many similar products on the market, it’s becoming more challenging to stand out. That’s why we’ve decided to put a strong focus on these two aspects in 2023. People are flooded with options and what sets us apart is our outstanding customer service. This not only leads to satisfied customers, but also to more positive reviews, which in turn helps to attract even more customers. It’s a virtuous cycle and we’re confident that this focus on customer service will help us differentiate ourselves in the market and drive more conversions.”
Mobile experience and social media trends:
In 2023, social media trends and mobile technology remain the key to helping businesses stand out.
Abbas Moledina, Co-founder of YouMakr.ai, shares: “2023 is expected to bring with it many changes in the world of online businesses. With the ever-growing digital economy, businesses must stay ahead of the curve in order to remain competitive. As such, it is essential for businesses to understand the current trends in order to successfully increase their conversion rates. One trend that is expected to continue in 2023 is the increasing use of mobile technology. More and more people are using their phones to access the internet, and this trend is only expected to grow in the future. As a result, businesses must make sure their website is mobile-friendly if they want to attract these customers. Another trend that is expected to continue in 2023 is the growth of social media platforms. Social media has become an essential part of many people’s lives, and as such, businesses must be active on these platforms if they want to reach their target market. Facebook, Twitter, and increasingly TikTok plus other social media platforms are excellent ways to connect with customers and learn about their needs.”
Flexible financing options:
Last but not least, business owners should keep helping customers access the products of their choice without worrying about payments. Thus, flexible financing methods and installment loans become a must-have for any business to stay competitive. As Brian Hawkins, Marketing Manager at GhostBed.com, admits: “0% Financing BNPL trend is not going away.”
So make sure you offer your customers payment methods they will love. With Tarya Installment Manager, you can set your own financing terms and boost your revenue and brand loyalty from day one.