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Good News for Independent Retailers |  April 13, 2016 (0 comments)


Miami, FL--Consumers of all ages still prefer physical store shopping to e-commerce shopping. According to a study by A.T. Kearny, brick and mortar retailing is not only the industries cornerstone today, but also it's the future. Let's all say Amen!

All I see is e-commerce getting all the attention, but in reality, the omnichannel preference study shows 90% of all US retail happens in stores. Again, can I get an ‘Amen!’ Opening a physical store, in fact is becoming a hot trend. Companies like Warby Parker and Birchbox are opening brick and mortar, where they were once only online. They state, "stores provide consumers with the sensory experience that allows them to touch and feel products. Customers want brand experience and want to engage with associates who provide tips and reaffirm shopper enthusiasm."

Most consumers prefer in-store discovery for popular retail categories including jewelry, furniture, apparel and health and beauty products. The place where in-store experience matters most shows 80% of all consumers preferred to test products in a physical store. Consumers need and want immediacy, (also known as instant self gratification) ease and accuracy. They do not like to receive info in the mail and then be disappointed by their purchase. Surprisingly, despite what we read about, study’s show 70% of consumers prefer to make their purchases in store. They tend to believe that the physical store offers better customer service than online retailers.

Let's discuss returns. Not that we want them, but three-quarters of consumers on average preferred to return an item in-store, even if they bought it online. This gives us another chance to show and possibly sell them something else. Consumers are not confident about shipping it back.

Is this a generation gap or not?

Interestingly, seniors and baby boomers most likely prefer brick and mortar at all stages of the shopping process. The surprise comes when there is a small difference between age groups, and that teens were right up there with older folks! Among the more surprising findings of the study is when it comes to shopping, teenagers and senior citizens are kindred spirits. One reason this might be is that teens do not have their own credit card to shop, as of yet. Once again the group with the lowest preference for physical stores are Millennials. But, even they would rather try, buy, and return to a brick-and-mortar store.

Studies suggest you won't be able to get away with purely a brick and mortar store. You will need some e-commerce but, that being said, you will be far more successful if you have a great store experience and a mediocre website then if you have a great e-commerce site and just a so-so store.

So where does your opportunity lie? As always, with young people. Attract teens now (think Alex and Ani) while they still enjoy physical shopping. Make your store appealing and fun by creating opportunities with social media. For example, encouraging shoppers to take pictures in the store and get opinions from their friends by sharing selfie's with your jewelry to post on all their social media. Another great idea is to have an online contest that has in-store payoffs!

Lead Millennials into your store and keep them coming back by making the retail and e-tail seamless. Example, consider selling some “online only” jewelry pieces that can be shipped to the store for pick up. Make your website a showcase for your retail store by letting consumers reserve a piece of jewelry in your store online and then come in to your store to try and buy.

The bottom line to this article is: brick and mortar are still very important, especially when it comes to jewelry. Plus, in a shoppers’ world, there's nothing like the actual experience of retail interaction and satisfaction. That’s what makes you want to come back again and again.   --Andie

Andie Weinman, president and CEO of Preferred Jewelers International / Continental Buying Group Inc., was born with the “Jewelry Gene” working in the jewelry industry since she was only ten years old. Her first job was as a cashier in the opening of a catalog showroom doing a fantastic job even at that tender age. Andie holds a B.A. in musical theatre and a B.S. in marine biology from The University of Tampa. When she realized that seawater and marine biology were not good on her hair and she wasn’t quite good enough to make it on Broadway, the jewelry business beckoned. Andie has picked diamonds, sorted color stones, shot waxes and performed a multitude of jobs in the manufacturing of jewelry.  Her negotiating experience and prowess has given her the reputation as being tough but fair in her dealings with vendors. In 2012 the Indian Diamond and Color Association awarded Andie the Prestigious Doyenne Award of the Year.

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