Retail is a competitive business, no matter which way you slice it. The 2016 holiday season proved what many already suspected: that online shopping is growing at a quicker rate than in-store shopping. According to First Data, more than one-fifth of holiday spending last year happened online (21.3 percent compared to 15.4 percent the previous year).
Business owners must approach these two kinds of retail very differently, with different marketing strategies, types of business insurance, and more. But e-commerce doesn’t necessarily mean the death of the physical store. Savvy business owners can harness the power of mobile and online shopping to enhance their brick-and-mortar locations!
Learn more about how some businesses are blending web-based and in-store retail to great success, and consider how your company can best adapt to our ever-changing online landscape.
Meeting in the Middle: Omni-Channel Sales
In March of 2017, Amazon opened a physical bookstore in Chicago. Why would they do this? They already have a booming online sales presence for physical and downloadable books. As the Chicago Tribune writes, though it’s just one bookstore, “it’s also one of Amazon’s first experiments with live customer service and cash registers, and a sign that one of the retail industry’s biggest disrupters may not be content to stick to e-commerce.”
Omni-channel refers to a customer experience that integrates online and offline shopping. Not only can customers whip out their cell phones and buy a product in a few minutes, but they can also stop into a local store to pick up their item, or to speak face-to-face with a sales expert. Harvard Business Review tracked shoppers’ habits over the course of nearly a year and found that 73 percent of those studied used multiple channels during their shopping journey. Only seven percent shopped online exclusively, while 20 percent shopped only in-store.
Instead of thinking of online versus physical as an all-or-nothing game, it may be helpful to strive for an omni-channel sales strategy. After all, it combines the immediacy and mobile friendliness of online shopping with the human touch of in-store engagement.
Different Risks, Different Rewards
Of course, it’s not as easy as snapping your fingers and developing a realistic omni-channel sales experience. If you’re a web-based store looking to transition into a physical space, you have to consider rent costs, where you’ll store your products, how you’ll hire and train sales associates to best serve customers, and how you’ll protect your business against a liability lawsuit or property damage. Vandalism, burglary, fires, natural disasters, and bodily injuries are all important reasons to make sure your Business Owners Policy provides the right coverage.
If you want to launch a website to support your physical store, you’ll have to tackle online marketing, find the best platform, provide virtual customer service, and figure out your shipping policies. Advertising injury, damaged goods, and faulty products are all real risks that require enough liability insurance in place to protect your company.
Learn more about the different types of business insurance that CoverHound offers to help your company succeed, whether you run a small e-commerce boutique, a chain of beloved neighborhood stores, or you’re working on your omni-channel strategy.