It really comes down to the types of goods that would determine the success of retailers who mix online and in-store.
It’s interesting to note what types of retailers would fall somewhere in the middle and would benefit from a strong blend of in-store and online strategies. It really comes down to the types of goods that would determine the success of retailers who mix online and in-store. My thoughts on the kinds of goods that would be great for the mix are:
- Goods that are not commodities. If there are physical differentiators for a product set, then it becomes more important to have a physical store channel for consumers to validate a choice that they might make online.
- Goods that are actually physical. Music is essentially a virtual ‘product’. The distribution lends itself to a strictly electronic form. Books are another example of this class of virtual product.
- Fashion is a prime industry for an online and in-store mix. The goods are differentiated physically in terms of cut, material, and colors.
- Technical physical products are another category that benefit from an online and in-store presence - gear that requires good maneuverability or feels good in the hand.
Perhaps another way to think about it is - what kinds of products carry a higher risk of disappointing the customer if they only ever had exposure to it online?
Physical stores can offer consumers experiences that are difficult to replicate online.
The future of retail is not deciding between physical or online but finding a way to bring the best of both experiences together.