Dusseldorf Revolutions always leave traces. Sometimes it only takes longer for them to become visible. For years, for example, Germans have been buying more and more goods online. In the third quarter of 2019, around 17 billion euros were transacted in online trade in Germany – in 2015, quarterly sales were still between 9.6 and 11.3 billion euros.
The consequences can now be clearly observed in the cities. The department stores in the pedestrian zones close or reduce their assortment, shopping centers migrate from the literally green field to the metropolises, discounters replace the convenience store. Not only, but also because of the online shopping.
The benefits are obvious. The customers save time, the shop owners save rent and operating costs. The shop is open around the clock because the Internet never closes. So does the advent of online virtual commerce mean the end of analogue branches?
Like so many stories, this narrative contains a grain of truth, but also a grain of exaggeration. Indeed, the future of commerce is not exclusively in online shopping, but in the symbiotic relationship of both channels. The offline presence is not substituted by the online presence, but complemented. And this strategy retail experts call "bricks and clicks", which, in free translation, means something like "bricks and mouse clicks".
Physical branches seem like the antithesis to virtual commerce, you might think. Rent payments? Operating cost? Employees? In fact, such a true, analogous business has advantages. On the one hand, the customers can try on the clothes immediately or touch products. On the other hand, they do something for environmental awareness, if not a package flies across the world, just because they just felt like a new wool scarf.
In addition, offline commerce still has image advantages. This was demonstrated a few years ago by a study by Jacqueline Kacen from the University of Houston. In all product categories, online retailers fared worse than offline retailers.
The one respondent criticized shipping and handling fees, the other the exchange and refund policy for returns, yet other missing helpful sellers. "The advantages of online shops in terms of diversity and user-friendliness can not outweigh these disadvantages," Kacen wrote.
However, it is not just about doing a store and an online shop. Smart traders cleverly connect the two channels. Grandmaster of this discipline is Amazon, which now operates not only branches, but bought for 13.7 billion dollars, the supermarket chain Whole Foods.
Included in the price: 477 branches And the American Internet eyewear retailer Warby Parker not only lets customers place the frames online and try them on at home. Meanwhile, the company has more than 70 branches.
Warby-Parker co-founder Dave Gilboa once told the British "Guardian" that both are benefiting from it: The physical branches create awareness for the brand and bring visitors to the site, which in turn drives online sales.
And last but not least, the purchase of a product is always a bit of a psychology – and that's where the dealers come in to meet them, because they can better address the senses of their customers there: "A purchase is far from always a rational, but often an emotional decision, "consumer psychologist Liraz Margalit told industry portal Retail Dive," but sitting in front of the monitor is a more rational environment than in the store. "
More: Daniel Rettig is Editor-in-Chief of the digital education platform ada. If you too want to understand tomorrow today, have a look: join-ada.com