There is a lot of turmoil surrounding physical and digital selling in the post-COVID world. How can brands make the most of these changes and challenges?

It’s no secret that global markets have changed during the pandemic. Just as the Industrial Revolution brought about changes in Western society’s values, shopping habits, and distribution of people and resources, the pandemic did the same between 2020 and 2022.

People who had never shopped online, or at least were reluctant, shopped for the first time. Amazon reports a 38% increase in sales for him in 2020. Major retailers have also invested in online storefronts and omnichannel marketing strategies to retain customers.

Some time away from the pandemic, the question arises: How and where will brands make their products available to consumers? Will customers shop primarily online today? What will the future of physical stores look like? How will in-store shopping coexist?

CMSWire decided to investigate these issues.

Outlook for digital and physical sales

In-store shopping was a popular choice pre-pandemic because it allowed consumers to get items quickly, return them if needed, and make the transaction more secure.

But according to NielsenIQ, the pandemic has changed 67% of shopper habits. And 92% of those who tried online shopping in 2019 moved to e-commerce. (McKinsey) One of the reasons for this change is that during COVID, businesses tried to negate the shortcomings of online shopping and instead turned to secure transactions, easy returns and fast shipping.

Morgan Stanley predicts that the e-commerce market will grow significantly over the next few years, growing from $3.3 trillion today to $5.4 trillion by 2026. For example, Insider Intelligence predicted 16.1% growth this year.

With predictions like these circulating and people returning to brick-and-mortar stores over the past few months, which of these suggested outcomes is more accurate? And what does that mean for your business? mosquito?

For purely online businesses, digital sales still appear to be on the rise, even in countries where online shopping was popular before the pandemic. But previous market growth may have been overstated, so it’s wise to play it safe by not expanding your business too quickly.

Annie Wissner, CMO of Avenue 10 and vice president of marketing for High Level Marketing, agreed. She said, “My personal view is that e-commerce as a whole will continue to expand and grow, but businesses need to carefully consider where and how they invest to support this future growth. there is.”

She pointed out that Shopify is laying off 1,000 employees (10% of its workforce). Shopify founder and CEO Tobi Lütke said in a memo that the layoffs were due to consumers resuming their previous shopping habits and curtailing their shopping online, which has fueled the company’s recent growth. said.

For companies looking to maintain a physical presence, this may seem like good news. But while people shopping physically again is a boon for certain brands, numbers are still far from pre-coronavirus levels, according to the Harvard Business Review. Brick and mortar stores still have to work harder for their customers, and perhaps even harder than they did pre-pandemic.

Related article: Can e-commerce be the antidote to ongoing retailer challenges?

Purchase point shift

When I discussed the issue with John McClymont, who has 15 years of experience in the distribution industry, he said it’s all about moving the point of purchase—the physical location where consumers decide whether or not to buy a product. said.

“Before the pandemic, I could just walk into the store and get what I wanted pretty quickly, so the store had an advantage in terms of purchases,” he said, confident that he could physically return the product if necessary. But he added that most customers don’t actually need the product right away.

“Today, consumers have been trained and accustomed to shopping online for the last three years. Easy purchases at the tap of a button, products delivered to your doorstep, and easy returns. This has given the online store an advantage over the physical store.”

Both online and brick-and-mortar stores have their own set of drawbacks that require different ways to navigate, so it makes sense for businesses to start thinking about how they can overcome these issues.

Omnichannel Customer Experience Leads to Sales

This is usually where the discussion about hybrid business plans takes place. Until now, companies have typically been one or the other. That meant putting more resources into physical stores and less resources into online stores. And vice versa.

Now in 2022, it seems appropriate to put equal resources on both sides of the business. The Internet isn’t going away anytime soon, and the aforementioned digital sales will only increase. This is all the more important given that Generation Z, the most tech-savvy generation ever, will soon start joining the economy en masse.

But at the same time, people still want to shop in physical stores.

How does a company balance both stores, and how do these stores drive traffic to each other? There are several ways to think about it.

Focus on omnichannel connectivity

Pre-COVID, depending on your business, having an accompanying app might sound extreme and unnecessary. We partner with companies such as Caviar.

While this option may work for some businesses, especially retail and data businesses, Wissner warns against relying on apps as the primary source of digital traffic for stores.

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