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Better Together: The Future of Retail is Online and Offline

Tuesday, Aug 10, 2021

The retail industry has experienced one of the fastest and largest evolutions to-date. The pandemic has forced companies to rapidly accommodate new customer needs. Retailers were required to broaden their selling strategies, reinforcing the traditional brick-and-mortar model and integrating a digital approach. 

The total number of retail establishments across the United States has increased even as e-commerce has grown by over 70% over the past three years.” 

Physical stores remain crucial to the industry. Most e-commerce sales made today are carried out by stores. The need for stores will always be evident – powered by the strong desire to see and feel a product before purchasing, a primordial feature of shopping that cannot be replicated online. Consumers want the benefits of brick-and-mortar shopping to be seamlessly integrated with newer digital methods – an opportunity to create the best of both worlds. 

Retail sales have grown by roughly 4% every year since 2010. As we emerge from the pandemic, retail has grown an estimated 6.7% in 2020, far above the 4.4% five-year average. This rate of growth has been unheard of over the past 15 years – showcasing an extremely promising future for the retail industry. 

“NRF forecasts that sales will grow between 10.5% and 13.5% to more than $4.44 trillion in 2021.” 

Consumer activity has bounced back at rapid rates. In-store traffic has now return to pre-pandemic levels, and have even recently exceeded 2019 rates. E-commerce sales remain higher than pre-pandemic, but lower than the highest levels in 2020, while in-store sales are increasing, bouncing back to equilibrium.

Pairing e-commerce with a brick-and-mortar footprint has created a “halo effect” for retail, strengthening consumer transactions and boosting the overall economy. According to the ICSC, “opening a new store increases traffic to that retailer’s website by an average of 37% and drives up a share of web traffic within that market by 27%.”

Nine of the top ten e-commerce websites also run and operate brick-and-mortar stores. The combination of brick-and-mortar and e-commerce has revolutionized today’s shopping experience, as brands cater to their customer’s preferred shopping methods.

Source: NRF: State of Retail

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