Amazon has started adding brick and mortar stores, and several other large online retailers have started to consider doing so as well. While internet transactions are gaining traction, face-to-face sales still eat up the majority of the market, especially with the integration of smart phone apps into regular shopping. Having a more traditional storefront can invite new local customers and give them a different sort of shopping experience with your company. Don’t underestimate the power of a good sales associate and an impulse buyer. People like being able to pick something up and take it home with them at that moment, even if shipping only takes two days.
However, finding the capital—or produce line—to move into a storefront location can be difficult. If you sell small parts, sometimes a store isn’t a great idea. If you sell only services, justifying a storefront can be even more difficult. Here are a couple of questions you should ask yourself before you make the leap.
Is Your Product or Service Sensory?
Having a physical storefront for, say, a cupcake store is absolutely imperative. Cupcakes create an inherent sensory experience, with colors, taste and smell. You can try out the cupcakes and the experience will likely make you desirous of more cupcakes. It makes sense to have a cupcake storefront. However, if your product is more digital, it can be more difficult to really enhance an experience in a store. Sometimes just calling someone and walking them through your service does the trick.
Would Face-to-Face Interaction Make a Difference?
Sometimes it’s not as simple as just a sensory experience; sometimes a face-to-face interaction, regardless of which senses your product activates, will actually make a difference. Maybe the full spectrum of your service is better experienced with a guide, or maybe it would make the purchasing decision easier if someone could answer questions in real life. However, there are also other ways to bring extra customer service to the table, even without a storefront—through tradeshows, for example.
Would Your Product Benefit from a Local Influence?
Sometimes a brand or a product wouldn’t benefit at all from a local presence, and the product thrives online or through direct sales. Sometimes it would, and the word-of-mouth marketing is worth having a storefront at all. Can you reach more prospects, enhance loyalty or connect in-store promotions to online purchases to build your brand? All this is valuable and would have a major impact.
Whether you choose to open a brick and mortar store or stick to selling the way you sell now, make sure every decision you make impacts your business positively.