The recent events have caused the term “Click ‘N Mortar” to become more popular than ever among everybody from small town general stores to major retailers. It’s nothing new, Click N Mortar has been slowly being deployed, but the recent events have caused more store owners to ramp up deployment of “Click ‘N Mortar”.
In a matter of a couple of months, buyer habits flipped. The conversations among digital marketing spaces in 2019 were mostly about how to take advantage of physical store traffic and using that data to create more of an omni-channel marketing experience for physical shoppers.
Now, the conversations, actions, and systems shifted towards providing store owners more options to make it easier to sell physical inventory online, engage customers online, and set up advance store pickup for post-covid19 interactions.
What exactly is Click ‘N Mortar?
“Click N Mortar” is a business model in which a store has both an online and offline operation for selling inventory. This model is the blend of allowing fast transactions online, access to the whole store inventory at any time of day, the opportunity for customers to research before coming to the store, and the ability to ask questions online to save time and money with the benefits of a physical store.
One of the biggest factors other than recent events was the creation of Amazon and the streamlining of ecommerce by Amazon. Amazon spent so much money and time to understand the shopping process that it crafted a process that most ecommerce businesses use to operate today.
Amazon’s creation forced major retailers to embrace “Click N Mortar” because customers were using their stores as showrooms.
Former Best Buy CEO Joly said back in 2017,
“From the outside looking in, there was the existential threat of Best Buy being killed by Amazon and being transformed into a showroom,” Joly said. “People would visit Best Buy stores, check out products and prices, and then buy them online. People thought we were dying.”
Hubert Joly would lead Best Buy into a “Renew Blue” which core was an omnichannel marketing hub built around the store and the website.
So what happened to buyer habits in the last four months?
Most experts have been discussing this model ever since the internet was invented, but conversations and providing solutions picked up in the last two years. Mobile phones provided the first catalyst for stores to get serious about offering an online storefront. The ability to research products, compare prices, and find competitors provided store owners headaches.
The next major catalyst to finally push store owners to embrace “Click N Motar” was Covid-19. In the last four months consumers were asked to stay in place to help stop the spread of Covid-19, and this forced people to learn how to order online.
Andrew Lipsman and Cindy Liu from eMarketer said “We expect that ecommerce will reach 14.5% of total retail sales in 2020, representing both an all-time high and the biggest share increase in a single year.” in their latest report on Ecommerce and Covid-19.
The massive shift of the paradigm has forced brands like Frito-Lay to launch their own online stores to help boost the struggling in-store sales. Supermarkets in the course of the last four months have seen record breaking requests for online orders.
The last four months has introduced a new element to the “Click N Mortar” model. The Dark Store. A dark store sounds sinister but they are only referring to the fact that the store doesn’t technically open and operates as a warehouse. This concept is going to ramp up as major shopping districts try to rework their spaces into more entertainment districts versus a full shopping district. The biggest rumors and actions by supermarkets have been more investment into distribution centers versus building stores.
What major events have happened in the last four months that rocked E-commerce?
The first major event was the unprecedented demand Amazon faced in the first month of the Covid-19 showed how unprepared Amazon was for the ramped up demand. That forced Amazon to stop shipping items that weren’t esstaincal and this caused retailers to wake up that Amazon had too much control and forced store owners to look towards other options.
This caused a ramp-up of the war between google, amazon, and the social media platforms. Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram ramped up the ability to sell inventory using only their platforms. This was seen in the industry as the first salvo against Amazon’s traffic. Google opened the Google Merchant system for free to store owners. Pinterest created a storefront system for store owners to make it easier for customers to purchase directly from pins.
This ramp up has one master goal. The mythical one-click buy. That’s always the goal of all ecommerce stores.
Another massive shift was the partnership with Shopify and Walmart. Shopify storefronts can have access to WalMart.com and sell their items directly to WalMart customers. Shopify, which is one of the best platforms for stores owners to embrace “Click ‘N Motar”, is the only platform that has access to this sales channel, and with Shopify becoming the most popular ecommerce platform it was truly a no-brainer for this partnership.
The most recent shift affects everybody selling on Amazon. Amazon finally cave into pressure from store owners, and now will provide the contact information of all sellers on Amazon. This one event will make it easier for store owners to go after 3rd party sellers. This event alone will help more brands and stores to offer their goods without the threat of the “Buy Box” to be toyed with.
What can stores do to finally embrace “Click N Mortar”?
One of the best platforms on the market today is Shopify. Over 500,000 online stores across the world use Shopify.
Shopify is a no-fuss platform, which is easy to set up and use. It is the best alternative for those who want a complete solution, with no technicalities related to development and hosting of the online store. The platform itself offers the software and hosting that is needed for launching the website.
One of the best features that shopify offers is the ability to control your inventory in one system. So by using the excellent Shopify POS for unifying in-store inventory with your online store. Allowing to maintain your inventory on Amazon, Ebay, Wal-Mart with your physical inventory is a game changer.
Shopify has the most resources available for any new store owners to learn how to move to “Click N Mortar”
Marketing Today Vs. Marketing Four Months ago, What changed?
Everything and nothing, it’s a weird answer, but marketing changed and also didn’t.
The biggest shift was the fact the price of clicks on platforms fluctuated due major brands pulling away from social media due to covid-19. This opened the door for the smaller brands to embrace digital marketing at a cheaper price. These smaller brands started to really ramp up their investment in online pay-per-click advertising.
Another shift that really affected brands was the integration of store feeds into Google Merchant and offering inventory viewing on Google My Business profiles allow customers to view intervory while researching your store. This is really important in today’s covid-19 world as people just want to find the items they are looking for and remove the hassle of wasting time on stores not having the inventory.
That same integration of product feeds into the completely overhauled the shopping experience on major social media platforms. Social media professionals are now embedding products into social media content. The same social media platforms have completely revamped their dynamic catalogs systems to allow retargeting to be done on a product level versus a general product message.
“Click N Mortar” was always going to be the future, but Covid-19 is forcing store owners to now offer it due to the massive shift in buyer’s behavior.
If your business, brand, or physical store want to embrace this model, our team can help take your inventory online, setup the omni-channel sales channel, and setup the POS system you need to go full “Click N Mortar”