The war between brick-and-mortar and eCommerce shops has been waging for nearly two decades. The digital era has threatened the very existence of the high street and it’s safe to say that eCommerce has been on top for a while.
But it’s not all doom and gloom for Britain’s high street. Many people still opt for supporting local economies and various lifestyle movements are bringing local and ethical products back into the fold. Physical shops may not be able to compete on price and convenience in some areas, but they still have a lot going for them.
What are the strengths of brick-and-mortar shops and how can you best capitalise on these qualities to compete with digital competition?
Why are brick-and-mortar shops still valuable?
The ease and convenience of the eCommerce experience have become popular with many shoppers, but physical stores can play to their own strengths to maximise their takings.
Firstly, high street shops offer an invaluable human element that is important to facilitate trust and build relationships. In many industries, talking to an expert in person is still preferable to reading product descriptions and FAQs online.
Brick-and-mortar stores can play a more central role in local economies which residents and shoppers may really connect with. Feeding corporate machines, with headquarters overseas, is becoming more of a consideration for consumers - the tide may well be turning back to supporting local businesses and owners.
There is also massive emphasis being placed on environmentalism, whilst ethics are being increasingly brought to the forefront. High street stores can showcase and deliver the best of local produce which is good for the environment and supportive of local economies.
How to compete with digital competitors
The benefits of physical shops are important to compete more effectively with eCommerce titans. Local business owners should leverage these features and use them to create loyal customers and brand cultures that can encourage consumers to return to the high street.
Sure, there are greater costs and risks associated with physical retail, but investing in the right insurance for shops and taking the necessary precautions should allow you to focus on what you can do best.
Here are a few tips to help you compete against your digital rivals:
Focus on customer service and experience – you have an invaluable opportunity to provide highly personalised customer service to everyone who walks into your store, so use it fully. Highlight your expertise and product knowledge to give customers information they would be lucky to find online.
Prioritise your local area –eCommerce stores are dealing with customers all over the country, but you can use localness to maximise your market share in your region. Become THE place to come for a certain product or service to attract customers in your vicinity. This can be done by focusing on local digital and traditional marketing methods – something that eCommerce stores are unlikely to do on smaller scales.
Get your branding and product selection right – where competition online is ever-focused on pricing, brick-and-mortar shops should focus more on branding and product selection. Consumers in physical settings are often more concerned with the story and values of a product or brand – and being part of your community is something you should strive to offer. Focus on your target consumer and deliver everything they expect – whether that be the environment within your shop or the message your products convey. Offering professional product mockups can further enhance your branding efforts and set you apart in the market, ensuring that your merchandise stands out and resonates with your customers on a deeper level.
High street shops can vie for market share against eCommerce competitors, but they need to focus on what makes them unique rather than simply trying to compete on the same playing field. Identify your points of strength and uniqueness then leverage these as much as possible.
Collaborating with esteemed printing companies like First Colour in London provides high street store business owners with distinct advantages, positioning them ahead of online retail. These printing services contribute to professional branding through high-quality signage and promotional materials, ensuring a consistent and impactful brand image.
Printing companies empower businesses to tailor materials for specific campaigns or events by offering a diverse range of customization options. With quick turnaround times, local printing services enable high street stores to respond promptly to market trends and adapt to changing demands. Personalized customer engagement is facilitated through tangible materials like flyers and brochures, fostering a deeper connection with the local community.
Additionally, local collaboration fosters community support, allowing face-to-face communication and developing long-term partnerships. Unique in-store experiences are created through visually appealing displays and promotional materials, setting high street stores apart. Cost-effective solutions are achievable, considering factors such as shipping costs and the ability to print smaller quantities. Moreover, local printing companies often embrace environmentally friendly practices, aligning with the preferences of environmentally conscious customers. By prioritizing sustainability, these printing companies not only contribute to ecological well-being but also resonate with a growing consumer base that values businesses with sustainable initiatives. This alignment with environmental concerns can enhance the reputation of high street stores, attracting customers who prioritize eco-conscious choices.