It’s no secret that e-commerce is taking over retail — online sales grew by 16% last year across North America. But even though there’s a lot to love about online shopping, customers haven’t stopped visiting physical stores.

Here are some ways you can encourage online buyers to keep shopping offline, too.

Differentiate your in-store shopping experience

Brick-and-mortar stores still have some advantages over online shopping. According to a recent survey, customers have plenty of reasons to shop in-store:

  • They want to see or touch an item before buying (70%)
  • They have an urgent need for an item (66%)
  • They can use more coupons and offers in the store than they can online (65%)

Make sure your space is designed to make the most of these opportunities! For example, you can set up informational displays for electronics, showrooms for furniture, testing and sampling areas for food, or fitting rooms for clothing.

You can also mimic how easy it is to browse, select, and compile items into a shopping cart during an online shopping spree. For instance, clear signage and displays make it easy for customers to shop through shelves without interrupting employees. Plus, placing emergency items (like phone chargers and batteries) and your most-frequently-purchased items by checkout makes it a breeze for customers to grab-and-go.

Lastly, sweeten the shopping experience with exclusive in-store offers that outweigh your online deals. Email, snail mail, social media, and web banners are just a few ways to deliver in-store specials to your online shoppers.

Promote a tech-driven process

Although some customers prefer to research products online and buy them in a physical store, some operate in reverse. Nearly 30% of shoppers do offline research before making an online purchase, and research suggests that figure will soon grow to nearly 50%. For the customers who’d rather swipe to shop, modernizing the store with tech like augmented reality and QR codes can better inform and accelerate their decisions.

You can also speed up checkout with mobile wallet technology so that customers can pay without fumbling for cards or cash. And if you enable shoppers to pay through your store’s app, you can offer things like rewards, special offers, and even mobile self-checkout capabilities. This is the kind of smooth, seamless experience that makes online shopping so appealing.

Finally, an automated, real-time inventory system can accurately show shoppers if items are available at their local store. They may be more likely to swing by and pick up products if it means they can get them faster — and spare the shipping cost, too.

Offer local pick-up and return options

Buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS), also known as click-and-collect, is growing — 68% of shoppers said they’ve made multiple BOPIS purchases, and 50% have chosen online retailers based on the availability of in-store pick-up. But adding BOPIS options isn’t just a good way to drive customers to the store — it encourages shoppers to pick up a few extra items while they’re out. The vast majority (85%) of customers say they’ve purchased additional items while picking up an online order.

More than half of consumers say BOPIS is especially important over the holidays, which is also the most popular time of year for returns. Customers return 10% of online holiday purchases. Returning orders is a hassle when shoppers have to ship items back to the retailer and then wait for a refund or replacement. But if they can return items to a physical store instead, 62% of shoppers are more likely to buy online.

You can even take BOPIS a step further in-store smart lockers. Find out how Smiota’s package lockers can help.