This week, I sat down with Karen Wong, the CEO and Founder of both ACE POS solutions Ltd. and TakuLabs. Ltd. She stresses that while the retail industry is going through many changes, the reality is that, physical retail is far from dead.
About Our Founder
Before co-founding Takulabs, Karen has been a part of several ventures - from being a small retail business owner herself, to working in marketing,manufacturing, and wholesale. Her passion lies in helping retailers sell more by building solutions that drive store growth.
The goal of this video series is to share Karen’s broad knowledge of retail and marketing with fellow store owners.
This talk will dive deeper into the importance of physical retail and the pros and cons of physical retail vs. e-commerce.
Do You Think Physical Retail is Going to Die?
Everybody has probably heard of the “retail apocalypse” - meaning physical stores are dying. The headlines are all about how the big chains are closing down. But in my opinion, it’s heavily overblown. The reality is that 85% of retail is still physical!
It’s not just about one channel. Increasingly, it’s all about being accessible to customers wherever they are. Because customers don’t just want to engage through shopping - they want to engage through discovery.
What is Shopping and What is Consumption?
There is a difference between shopping and consumption.
Shopping means that there is a discovery process. It means you are looking for something but you need more information.
Consumption means you that you are just refilling the pantry. You buy the same brand every time so you just need to find a place to buy it from. In this case, people may just go online.
Why do you Push Physical Retail so Much?
A lot of our customers are established businesses. That means that they are already profitable businesses with fixed costs. But these fixed costs are covered by the fact that they have ongoing business that covers those costs.
Retailers should be leveraging their business while trying to grow their physical and digital channels.
Right now, many of our customers have those established doors and there’s so many reasons you want to push physical retail vs. only e-commerce.
When people say that “I have to go digital, I need to open an e-commerce store”, my first question to them is: have you optimized everything you are doing in your physical store?
You already pay those fixed costs. Everything you sell, you make a higher margin because your fixed costs are already covered.
What are the Pros and Cons of E-commerce vs. Physical Retail?
There are so many pros and cons to e-commerce.
Pros: everybody wants to be found immediately and they want their catalog up there - because shoppers like to see that information. But at the same time, there are huge costs associated with e-commerce.
People are much more price conscious online vs. in-store.
Free shipping is a massive cost.
People are more inclined to return items online. The return rates are proven to be more than double than what they are in-store. People are more likely to return online because there isn’t that interaction where people have guilt involved - when you are returning something to the store and you know it shouldn’t be returned.
So you have to think about these additional costs of going digital. Even though there are supposedly no overhead associated with those sales.
What are the Benefits of Leveraging Physical Retail?
Other things you want to think about is that if you don’t leverage physical retail, you are missing out on things such as impulse buys. When a person comes into the store looking for one thing, they often leave with multiple things. It happens to me and still happens to me all the time!
You should also consider thinking about cross-selling and up-selling. You have people in the store and you yourself (if you are in the store) are probably the best person to tell people "that item that you’re looking at really goes well with this". Or maybe even get them to buy something even better than what they were originally considering.
The Future of Physical Retail
All of these things and moments are part of the reasons why I don’t think physical retail is going to die. It’s just going to be a major core or focus of retail as we move forward.
I mean after all, you are seeing more and more pure e-commerce businesses are opening physical stores because they’ve realized they can make more money in physical stores than they can online.
It means more engaged customers that come back with repeat business.
Data Analytics in Retail
Another thing that you want to note is data analytics in retail(this is where I talk a lot to customers about using technology). Those stores are famous for using data and using the data well to make sure that everything they are doing in that physical store is being driven by some type of statistic or analytics.
This is kind of my reason for encouraging customers to really reconsider re-vamping or reviewing the operations of their physical store first.
We hope you enjoyed the first episode of our video series! Subscribe to our Youtube channel to stay updated on upcoming videos.
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