When online retailing first got going, the disparity between online and offline prices was astounding. Many experts predicted the demise of the physical retail store.
Fast forward a few years and traditional retailers have adapted. They saw the threat that competing solely on price represented and acted accordingly. Today, the price difference between online and in-store is much closer. Online shopping provides some advantages, but physical retail still maintains many advantages over online.
That advantage is that customers are human beings and are thus sensual creatures that react to sight, sound, smell and touch. The key for physical retailers is to capitalise on human senses to influence purchasing decisions and to combine that with the same technology that was threatening their existence a short while ago.
Have you ever walked into a bakery lined with cases of fresh baked bread and other goods? The smell alone is enough to start the salivary glands working overtime. It is almost impossible to walk out of that bakery without buying something.
This same approach can also work with any retail item, even those where it would appear that online retailing has the upper hand, such as small electronics. The key here is to allow the customer to involve their senses. This could take the form of demo products that has been taken from the security packaging so that customers can touch and manipulate controls, hopefully with the guidance of a trained sales associate who knows how to present features and benefits in a way that appeals to the senses that no website could ever hope to duplicate. Then the retailer has to ensure the price is at least relatively close to that of its online competitors so the sale can be clsed immediately.