We co-hosted our workshop, O2O for eCommerce players, this spring in Hong Kong. We explored why going offline is the key to success in expanding your eCommerce business internationally.
A change in the retail landscape
15 years ago, retailers with physical stores wanted to go online. Today, online businesses want to go offline. During this time, we’ve seen dozens of articles about stores closing at an incredible rate. However, 94% of final retail sales still happen offline, in a physical store.
Kohl’s, the American department store, observed that when closing brick-and-mortar stores, online sales dropped by 10%. J.C. Penney also reported that 90% of returned products are made at an offline store, giving them a chance to get feedback and build a personal relationship with customers. It is pretty clear that the physical store still matters. It’s not about being online or offline anymore, it’s about being both at the same time and linking them in a smart way.
Evolution of the customer journey
The customer’s journey has become hybrid. Customers want to see your brand online because it’s available 24/7, browsing is faster and prices are interpreted as lower. They also prefer to visit physical stores because they want to see and touch the product with the option to purchase immediately if they want to.
It’s in your best interest to make their journey as most convenient as possible. Make sure that the buying decision can be made at anytime, on any device. Allow them to browse your products online and buy them offline, or the other way around. This is what experts call omnichannel: create a seamless customer experience for a maximum conversion rate, regardless of where users make the final purchase.
Going from online to offline when you don’t want to commit to long-term or engage high costs can be difficult for brands. The mismatch between the traditional real estate market with it’s long and strict processes, and the retail market that is turbulent with short and flexible life cycles, can be a big challenge.
Going for a pop-up store is the bridge between online retailers and real estate stakeholders. There is no long-term commitment and you have full control of your budget and timeline.
Using a pop-up store instead of a traditional retail store gives you one more leverage point. When opening a traditional store, the location is the main key. The objective is to find the premium space and location for your customers to find you. Opening a temporary shop allows you to leverage on another great point: timing. Pop-up stores are all about being at the right place, at the right time: being flexible. For example, opening an exclusive pop-up store during Paris Fashion Week has been seen by many fashion brands as an integral part of their sales strategy.
To learn more about temporary retail space, download our Ultimate Pop-Up Guide and learn more about what this powerful strategy could bring to your brand.