Will Brick & Mortar Make a Comeback in 2022?

There’s been a massive shift to online shopping in the past two years. And this has left many wondering how this is impacting brick-and-mortar shopping. Thankfully, consumer and market intelligence offers insight into this dilemma, as we examine the state of shopping and its outlook below!

shopping-summary-metrics

Let’s explore the details through these key categories:

  • Brick and mortar stores, as they sit right now
  • Consumer psychology around in-person shopping
  • What the future could hold for shopping experiences

The Importance of Continuous Consumer & Market Intelligence

And here are stats around the current in-store situation:

The State of Brick & Mortar

We saw a lot of brick-and-mortar store closures, as well as acquisitions in 2020 and 2021. The pandemic did a number in stores around the world, forcing some to either join forces with those in a better position, or close all together. VF Corp, aka Vans Owner, collected streetwear label Supreme. And popular brands Pier One and Stein Mart were snapped up by Retail Ecommerce Ventures. The whole playing field changed in a very short time. Consumers flocked to online stores to get not just their wants, but their needs as well, so a revolution was afoot and some massive shifts were inevitable.

But what’s happening now? Let’s see if we can clear up where brick and mortar stores stand two years after the pandemic.

Advanced AI capabilities allow us to explore the many conversations happening around online vs in-store shopping. We’ve highlighted the top 10 clusters below:

shopping-conversation-clusters

Exploring gives us a bit of a confusing picture as there are equal amounts of news stories amplifying online shopping, while simultaneously there are many promoting a brick-and-mortar comeback:

nuanced-shopping-conversations

Last year we saw a third option emerge that attempted to blend the two – virtual retail experiences where online shops were striving to make encounters as much like in-person shopping as possible. And this inspired thinking around other ways the two could complement one another. This is key, as the psychological response to shopping has also experienced a shift.

The Psychological Response of Shopping

Just shy of 35% of consumer prefer in-person shopping. It allows them to experience the product before purchasing and they don’t have to pay shipping fees. This need to view and touch what they’re buying before purchasing it has remained fairly constant throughout, be we saw consumers willing to give that up in a tradeoff for safety..

But does that mean online shopping is destined to decline? Not necessarily. In fact, in 2023, eCommerce retail purchases are expected to rise 14.1% – 22%. So, what’s happening is more of a hybrid shopping experience where both brick-and-mortar store and online shopping are thriving.

They both offer different experiences and consumer choice will hinge on prevailing consumer emotion. And as mentioned – the options continue to blur –  consumers will order their product online but 46% of consumers will pay more to pick up an item in-store 5 minutes from home rather than wait for two-day delivery. And this points to a key behavior response to customer wait times – one that brands will want to fold into their planning.

Shopping in-store or online isn’t synonymous with no waiting. Forty-four percent of consumers say they’re willing to wait two days for ‘standard’ shipping. But only one-quarter of consumers say they’d wait 3-4 days. And when it comes to waiting in lines in store, consumers are also finicky.

  • Only 20% of consumers are willing to wait in line for three minutes, and the percentages lessen from there:
  • 17% will wait between three and seven minutes
  • 16% will wait between eight and 10 minutes
  • 19% will wait more than 11 minutes

Minding that last mile is more important than ever, regardless of how consumers make a purchase – so streamline that checkout and enhance delivery options wherever possible. They’re an increasingly impatient bunch!

Making Wait Time Worthwhile

Paynter, a clothing brand, has mastered the art of distraction by making their fans feel a part of a special club. Since they only make four limited edition batches of clothing per year, they had to get creative with keeping their clients satisfied while they wait for their product. Each piece must be pre-ordered and it can take quite a bit of time getting to you, as it’s a small business committed to sustainable practices.

So, how do they keep customers happy? Each week, they send out updates and content on the item the customer has ordered. And this has a two-fold purpose: To excite customers about their product, and to educate them on the effort involved. This very simple action makes consumers feel a part of an elite club. It works too, Batch No. 4 sold out in two minutes.

 

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A post shared by Paynter (@paynterjacket)

The psychology in which waiting in a line for something coveted by millions can make a consumer feel part of the club, works wonders here. Additionally, it’s shown that if what you offer has perceived value in it, the consumer will view the wait as worthwhile.

And when it comes to in-person/online hybrid shopping, top brand Target has found ways to keep their consumers happy as well. When it comes to waiting – or not waiting,

Target offers choices. In fact, they had a 45% digital growth increase, made with the help of in-store pick-up and same day delivery as well as Drive Up – it’s pick up option. Sales fulfilled using Drive Up grew more than 70% in 2021.          .

Creating Concepts that Merge Both Worlds

Research shows that consumers want options, and that includes the option to go into a store or shop at one from their couch. That being said, eCommerce still only took up about 13.2% of total sales in 2021. Add to that the fact that consumers still like to try on something before purchasing and enjoy the immediate gratification of having an item in hand, it’s safe to say brick and mortar comeback is here to stay as well.

It is critical however, to take into consideration how the two have a symbiotic relationship. 81% of shoppers research products online before purchasing. And this means the consumer journey begins before they ever step foot in your physical store.

And then there are the DTC brands who decided to open brick and mortar stores after being online only for a long time. Brands like Kohara + Co,:

 

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A post shared by Kohara + Co. (@kohara.co)

and 5 Element Pet Food Therapy:

Fostering micro-communities is a neat way to attract a loyal following. And many brands have niche consumers they’re yet to discover online craving this exact offering. Consumer research reveals these opportunities.

Whether you’re solely online or solely a brick-and-mortar business, it’s time to think about planting your feet firmly on both sides as the world experiences a brick-and-mortar comeback with online infused in every corner of the building. Find ways to connect with consumers that will continue to bring them back again and again.

Reach out for a demo and be prepared to roll with your target market, wherever they need you to be!

The Importance of Continuous Consumer & Market Intelligence

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