Nowadays, when you need something quick, most people’s first thought is, “I’ll just check Amazon and see if they have it.” The vast scope of online retailers, the wide variety of goods available online, and the convenience of things like Amazon Prime’s 2-day shipping make online shopping easier than ever. When we have conversations about online retailers, there always seems to be the same question lingering in the background: what about traditional brick-and-mortar retailers? Is the rapidly expanding ecommerce market hurting them?

A Small Percentage

Despite online retailers seeming to dominate the market, especially large ones like eBay and Amazon, ecommerce still makes up a relatively small percentage of retail sales at 10.7% as of 2019. You might be wondering how this is possible, given the large amount of stuff we order online. However, take a moment to consider where you’re ordering from. Of course you’ve got Amazon, eBay, Overstock, and the like, but you’re also ordering from places like Target and Walmart’s websites. It’s not that brick-and-mortar retailers are being eclipsed by online retailers, they’re simply adapting to the online retail era.

Online Convenience at Grocery Stores

online ordering of groceries from retail store

Over the past few years, more and more grocery stores have rolled out curbside pickup. At Kroger, it’s known as Clicklist. Food Lion calls it Food Lion To Go. Whatever it’s called, it usually works in the same way: shoppers can browse the store’s inventory online, place and pay for their order, and set it to be picked up at a certain time. When that time rolls around, the shopper drives to the store, parks in a designated spot, and calls the store to let them know they’ve arrived. Store employees will then bring the customer’s order out to the car and load it for them, and the customer doesn’t even have to get out of the car. Grocery store employees have noticed that this service is utilized mainly by parents with small children. Shopping with kids can be a nightmare, so this option saves parents time and headaches. There are even services such as Shipt and Instacart that will send an independent contractor to the store to do the shopping for the customer, then deliver it straight to the customer’s door. This is a prime example of how brick-and-mortar retailers have adapted to take advantage of the convenience of online shopping, while still making money.

The Key to Surviving as a Brick-and-Mortar Retailer

It’s clear that businesses must adapt to the digital era if they want to stay afloat. But what if you own a small business, and it’s just not realistic to have online shopping options for your customers? Don’t worry! You just need to use your digital presence to draw customers to your physical location. Fortunately, in this day and age, it’s easy to do! Make sure you have a presence on major social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) and adapt that to your customer base. For example, if your customers are mostly in their 20s, you’ll want to pay extra attention to advertising on Instagram. However, if your customers are over 50, you may want to advertise more heavily on Facebook. Post frequent updates on what’s going on at your business, and always make sure to put the physical address of your business in the captions along with messages such as “Come see us!” or “Stop in today!”

Are Brick-and-Mortar Businesses Ultimately Doomed?

Even with the smart adaptations businesses are putting into place, there’s still the lingering question: will there come a day when brick-and-mortar retailers become obsolete? The short answer is “most likely not.” Even with the convenience of online shopping and the minimal effort required to get what you need, there’s something to be said for going to a physical store. In particular, ordering clothes online can be tricky. Besides the fact that sizes change from store to store, you never know how a particular style is going to look on you until you try it on. Though many online clothing retailers offer free returns, it’s kind of a hassle to re-pack the clothes that didn’t work out and mail them back, or take them back to the physical store. A lot of the time, it’s just easier to go to the retail store in the first place and try on the clothes you’re planning on buying. Additionally, going out shopping with your friends can be fun. Even if you don’t end up buying anything, wandering the aisles of Target with a friend is much more fun than sitting on your couch together browsing Target’s website.

Ready to Lease Your Own Retail Space?

If you’re looking for the perfect retail space to lease for your business, Schwarz Properties can help! Schwarz Properties specializes in commercial and residential property management in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. Not only do we lead the market for shopping and retail spaces for lease, our portfolio also includes, industrial and warehouse space, restaurant space, residential properties, office space, and much more. If you are looking to rent a retail space, please contact Schwarz Properties at (336) 625-6076 or visit us on our website.