There’s no doubt the retail landscape has changed drastically since the introduction of eCommerce to the business world.
Although online shopping continues to grow nationwide, companies are beginning to take a fresh look at what makes the in-store experience valuable to shoppers given the assumed ease and convenience online outlets have to offer.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in-store purchases still make up the majority of sales transactions going on day-to-day. When we zoom in to see how eCommerce is affecting certain kinds of products, categories like books, clothing, and electronics are seeing some of the highest percentages of online sales, yet companies like Barnes and Noble continue to maintain a strong in-store component to their retail strategy.
With a study by the NPD Group finding 48% of book and stationary sales now taking place through online outlets (and growing), the future for bookstores may seem shaky. With people turning to the convenience of eBooks, why do people bother making the effort to meander the bookshelves inside physical stores anymore?
The answer is simple: innovation doesn’t mean completely converting your retail presence to the Internet—in-store customer experience remains the strongest component of consistent retail activity.
Shopping online for books is perhaps one of the least exciting ways to immerse yourself in the experience of discovering new things to read. Barnes and Noble realized this and consequently made their stores into exactly what people can’t get online: a place to sit down, drink a coffee, and thumb through some potential purchases in a social environment. As a result, they’re able to provide customers with a place to come back to time and time again to find what they’re looking for rather than battle with a multitude of online outlets engaging consumers in constant flux––chaotically shifting from company to company in a quest for the lowest price.