How Brick-and-Mortars Can Survive the Digital Landscape

image of shopkeep appMusic, movies, even encyclopedias are all industries that have been disrupted by advances in technology, and retail is joining this group. It doesn’t have to be as bad as it was for Britannica, says Steve Wellen, VP of Client Services at Domo, a cloud-based executive management platform that offers real-time access to business information. To guide retailers on the new digital path, Domo looks at three trends of 2013, along with suggested strategies to succeed.

Different Mobile Devices, Different Growth Rates

Mobile is more than smartphones, and includes tablets, on which sales are quickly growing. Industry research discovered that consumers are almost twice as likely to make a purchase on a tablet device than on a smartphone. Additionally, when viewing a merchant’s product page online, 75 percent of consumers rated “quality of image” as “critical” or “very important” in the purchasing process.

What it means: The statistics on mobile users’ dependence on images might seem out of place. However, image sizes deserve to be considered here because these multiple platforms can change the size, and, therefore, quality, of what is quickly becoming your number one sales strategy. With all the traffic occurring on these devices, it is vital to have a website optimized for mobile. Although smartphones are important, tablet usage should be your priority.

New Shopper Habits

We all know that there has been a migration to mobile, but that doesn’t mean curtains for brick-and-mortars. More than 40 percent of consumers say they “showroom,” or check out items in-store before purchasing them online. The transaction may happen online, but the experience happens with your associates.

What it means: Although the opposite is often perceived to be true, online business is growing due, in part, to physical locations. Now, more than ever, retailers need a showroom more than a store, and may even need to consider partnering with an online distributor, such as Amazon or Best Buy. Physical locations are playing such an important role in the customer experience that even pure-play brands like the Gap’s Piperlime, Bonobos, eyeglass retailer Warby Parker, and others are diving into the brick-and-mortar side of retail.

Ecommerce is Exploding

To understand the overall ecommerce landscape, multiple questions have to be asked, such as “What part of the retail industry is growing?” and “How does a shopper’s growing relationship with cross-channel shopping translate into business strategies?” Consider these statistics:

  • Web retailers saw growth of 28 percent in 2012 over 2011. (
  •, NRF’s digital division, expects online sales in 2013 to grow another 9 to 12 percent. (National Retail Federation)
  • All ecommerce product categories showed strong (10 percent or higher) growth in Q2 2012. (ComScore)

What it means: There is incredible opportunity out there for retailers, but it requires an intense amount of data management. Retailers must have a solid dashboard that helps them track fulfillment, stock, online purchases vs. in-store returns, point-of-sale purchases compared to online cart abandonment, and more. Online and offline can form a happy marriage in 2013, Wellen concludes, if retailers will adopt and adapt to this technology.