Online Retail Goes … Brick and Mortar?

April 1, 2013 Desiree Daniels

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Ecommerce retailers strive to give customers fast, efficient, and convenient shopping experiences, from the comfort of their home. While it is no surprise that eCommerce continues to grow, online retailers are taking steps to ease some of the pain points that customers have when shopping online.

A new trend is emerging with online stores creating a physical presence with their businesses. Additionally, online-only superstores are exploring innovative ways to improve shipping products so customers never miss a package again.

Although the initial belief behind online retail was that consumers dreaded taking time out of their day to visit a physical store, the benefits of being able to touch, feel, and experience products has been shown to be an incomparable driving force for decision making.

According to the New York Times, companies like Etsy, eBay, Piperlime and Bonobos, which have typically had an online-only presence, are now testing small showrooms in large cities across the country. These smaller stores, with smaller square footage than standard “big box” retailers, allow these online retailers to customers interact with products physically before they buy. These stores are not meant to house all products, but rather serve as a showroom for new or popular items. Because they carry limited stock, they are able to afford more expensive, high-visibility locations in major cities.

Another program being tested seeks to improve the burdens that come with shipping. Amazon is rolling out “lockers” in various test cities. Deliveries are dropped off in conveniently-located locked boxes so users can pick them up anytime, eliminating the need for them to be home for a FedEx delivery.

Many people aren’t home during the day to wait for packages to arrive. We’ve all been there – we’ve missed the delivery of a purchase…for the third time. Then we’ve needed to fetch it from a far-off warehouse that kept inconvenient hours. Improving the flexibility customers have in receiving their packages makes a lot of sense.

While eCommerce continues to grow, it’s interesting to see the changes, experiments and improvements that are made to make the online shopping process as pain-free as possible. We look forward to seeing how it evolves and strives to best serve customers.

We always like to stay updated on the eCommerce industry as it unfolds – do these pain points apply to you? What changes are you anticipating for your online business?

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