Whether you need groceries or new jeans, you have the option of buying just about anything online these days. Even before pandemic-related lockdowns, e-commerce experienced steady growth as consumers opted for the convenience of purchasing products over the internet.

Retail e-commerce sales in 2020 totaled an estimated $791.7 billion, up 32.4 percent from 2019, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. However, that amount only accounted for 14 percent of total sales, meaning that offline shopping still dominates the retail sector.

For brick-and-mortar shops competing with e-commerce, there are numerous strategies you can utilize to combat the allure of virtual shopping. Here are a few ways to convince consumers to get off the couch and visit your store instead of placing another order online.

1. Leverage search engine optimization (SEO) to attract customers.

Even if you’re focused on in-store sales, it’s essential to optimize your website for search engines like Google, according to the Entrepreneur article “4 Ways Brick-and-Mortar Stores Can Outsell Online Retailers.” By including keywords related to your goods and services and your specific location on your site, you’ll ensure your store shows up whenever someone turns to their smartphone to look for “locksmiths near me” (or whatever you have to offer).

2. Ask clients for testimonials and reviews to bring in new business.

If you peruse the reviews before deciding to purchase a product or service from a particular seller, you’re far from alone. In 2020, 87 percent of consumers read local business reviews online, and 79 percent said they have as much faith in those assessments as they do in recommendations from people they know personally, according to the BrightLocal 2020 Local Consumer Review Survey.

Reviews are vital if you want to convince potential buyers to visit your store. Be sure to ask your regulars and all other satisfied customers to give your business feedback via Google and Yelp. BrightLocal advises asking for reviews in person when someone makes a purchase or through other channels such as email, text messages, notes on receipts, and social media posts.

3. Invest in creating an exceptional in-store customer experience.

Most consumers (79 percent) say the experience your business delivers matters just as much as the services and products you’re offering, according to the Salesforce blog entry “8 Retail Trends and Predictions for 2021.” Ensuring your store environment is pleasant, welcoming and aligned with your target shoppers’ wants and needs can help your sales stay strong in the face of competition from e-commerce.

Attentive staff members can also make a big difference, according to the Retail Learning Channel article “How Brick-and-Mortar Retailers Can Compete with Online Shopping.” Many people enjoy forming personal connections with store employees and receiving in-person assistance while they shop.

4. Offer exclusive in-store deals and events.

Brick-and-mortar stores can gain a competitive edge by providing people with something that e-commerce sites don’t deliver. Special discounts and events for in-store shoppers can boost sales.

5. Give shoppers the option of curbside pickup. 

One of the reasons people choose to shop online is to save time, according to The Balance Small Business article “Brick and Mortar Stores vs Online Retail Sites.” As a result, physical stores can compete by making it easy to pick up products. Additionally, curbside pickup has become prevalent during the pandemic, and many consumers might still prefer it for health and safety reasons on top of the convenience factor.

Ultimately, while online sales are on the rise, brick-and-mortar stores still have plenty to offer shoppers. By focusing on the in-person experience and catering to consumers’ evolving preferences, you can convince your clients that leaving the house and making the trip to your store is well worth it.

If you’re searching for retail space, the Avalon Realty Associates team is here to help. Please take a look at our property listings for commercial real estate available in the Chicago area and beyond. For additional details, don’t hesitate to contact us by emailing info@avalonreal.com or calling 847-506-1000.