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The Unexpected Friendship of E-Commerce & Brick-and-Mortar

November 25, 2022

The coronavirus pandemic brought about an astronomical increase in online shopping. But as the pandemic continues to recede, a widespread resurgence of in-person shopping leading up to the 2022 holiday season began to slow the e-commerce takeover. A growing number of experts agree that the relationship is now more complementary rather than competitive.

After reaching unprecedented heights during pandemic lockdowns, online sales growth dropped nearly 18 percent, decreasing to 14.2 percent in 2021 from 31.8 percent in 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

While there has been a significant increase in brick-and-mortar transactions post-pandemic, Green Street, research leader in commercial real estate, predicts the actual growth overtime to be slower than e-commerce in upcoming years.

Research from McKinsey reports that one-third of Americans made omnichannel features a normal part of their shopping routine. These include features such as buying online for in-store pickup. Further, almost two-thirds of those individuals planned to continue.

Brick-and-mortar stores can use these channels to their advantage; they can play a key role in the delivery of goods to reduce the final step of the delivery process. While this was true pre-pandemic as well, the pandemic brought this strategy to the forefront.

More retailers than ever are focusing on how to inform customers of the availability of product near them and at a competitive price. Whether it’s displaying the exact amount of product in stock in their store or which aisle the product is in, stores are emphasizing the physicality of product, something that was not nearly as feasible during the pandemic. Even during the pandemic, there was a focus on brick-and-mortar stores more so as pseudo-fulfillment centers where customers could pick up or return orders placed online.

Retailers need to think of their location outside of the box, quite literally. Rather than just asking how much profit you’re getting from your four walls, ask how you identify with your shoppers and how you connect that with the physical.

The revival of brick-and-mortar can be best interpreted through the psychology of togetherness. As lockdowns diminished, people craved opportunities to get out and connect, leading to a trend of experienced-based retail that survives today. It is predicted that the most successful retail will be rested on an omnichannel support system.

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