Amazon vs. Brick-and-Mortar

3 Lessons to help your business win the war with e-commerce giants.

Amazon acquired Whole Foods for $13.7 billion this month, and the Internet is exploding with discussion of how retail is hereby changing forever, as online retail giants continue an e-commerce battle with traditional brick-and-mortar stores.

In a world where opportunity is growing as exponentially as our technology, the human experience of purchasing product is evolving alongside it. As a technology company working to navigate and grow the brands of countless Canadian furniture designers, artists and retailers, PicturethisⓇ is working to solve the pressing question:

How can local brick-and-mortar stores compete with behemoth retail giants like Amazon?

Through studying and learning from Amazon’s fearless and successful strategy, we have compiled three valuable lessons that we want to pass on to our partners as we work to build a place for Canadian business in e-commerce:

Lesson 1: Embrace and pioneer change

In the famous words of Spencer Johnson, author of Who Moved My Cheese: “If you do not change, you can become extinct.” In the rapidly progressing digital landscape, businesses that do not change and adapt will simply be left behind in today’s market.

But simply “changing” is not enough — today’s e-commerce reality is one of innovation and ruthlessness, where risks need to be taken to launch brands and online platforms above the competition. Case in point, in 2016 Amazon spent 11.8% of net sales ($16.09 billion) on innovative technology, and continues to profit from a fearless e-commerce approach.

Brick-and-mortar retailers often seem to play it safe in the digital age, unfortunately held back by fears of cost and risk that can result in missed opportunity and loss of sales. But innovation doesn’t need to come with a big price tag — we’ve learned from experience that it’s all about utilizing measured risk, strategic creativity and quality partnerships.

Lesson 2: Strategically focus on consumers’ wants and needs

BASIC CEO and Executive Director Matt Faulk has it right when he says “consumers don’t want to be sold to, they want to be connected with”.

Interestingly, Retail Dive reported recently that 62% of shoppers still prefer advantages like instant gratification, easy returns and the ability to touch, feel and try out items that comes with an in-store experience. Amazon is catching up with perks like free-returns and 2-day shipping, but the current market still favors the brick-and-mortars who stay strong in their physical store strategy.

That being said, recent years still show trends of an increasing number of people turning to online retailers — a BigCommerce 2017 report showed a consistent 23% increase in e-commerce year-after-year. Therefore there is huge opportunity in the market for brick-and-mortar stores to find the balance between the convenience of shopping online and the advantages of in-store 3-dimensional experiences.

For example, PicturethisⓇ product catalogues demonstrate how furniture retailers can utilize digital platforms to enhance and support their brick-and-mortar stores. We make 3D photo-realistic models of real products that can be placed inside 3D replicas of real spaces in online environments that customers can virtually walk through. This saves consumers time and money while giving them the advantages of both the in-store and online shopping experience.

Lesson 3: Invest in meaningful customer experiences

Take it from Amazon’s Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos: “More and more money will go into making a great customer experience, and less will go into shouting about the service. If you offer a great service, people find out”.

Despite the digital saturation that permeates our lives, customers still crave meaningful interactions within their shopping experiences, giving brick-and-mortars the advantage. However, Amazon’s customer service efforts are setting a high bar, so it’s vital for brick-and-mortar stores to step up customer service with a multi-modal online and in person approach.

Sellbrite puts it perfectly: e-commerce competition is fierce, and businesses can’t just sell product. To be successful, retailers have to focus on exceeding expectations, solving problems, listening proactively and working to understand customers better than ever before — online and offline.

At PicturethisⓇ we have found that creating meaningful experiences that get customers into stores has to go hand-in-hand with cultivating them in a parallel online space. When two-thirds of in-store shoppers compare prices online before making a purchase, and 84% of customers believe that retailers should do more to integrate online and offline channels (RetailNext), our technology helps brick-and-mortars win against online behemoths like Amazon.

We hope our partners can benefit from our lessons and experiences as we navigate through the evolving e-commerce landscape. Together we are offering the best of both worlds, leveraging cutting-edge technology with retail opportunity, combining the best parts of e-commerce with good-old-fashioned furniture shopping…all in a way that’s never been done before.

Interested in how RE3D technology is helping local retailers win the brick-and-mortar battle with Amazon? Visit picturethistoday.ca for more information or email andrea@re3d.com.

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