The pandemic that extended and spread around the world in 2020 affected everyone in numerous ways. The demand for goods and items never reduced, but customers shifted to safer channels to procure them. Brick-and-mortar businesses enjoyed considerably more popularity a few decades ago than they do today. Since e-commerce started gaining widespread acceptance, traditional businesses had to come up with exciting techniques to stay relevant. Even though online stores are more accessible, efficient and comfortable to shop at, the experience of buying things in person from a store remains unmatched.
Brick-and-mortar businesses in the 21st century
Shopping online is incredibly hassle-free since you get to purchase the things you need from the comfort of your bedroom without having to stand in line or go around in search of helpful employees. The mechanism is exceptionally straightforward, and all you’ve got to do is type in a few words to get to the things you need. There are also numerous filters so you can narrow down to find exactly what you are looking for. Once you’re done shopping, all you’ve got to do is pay online, and the items will be delivered straight to you.
Though online stores present customers with numerous advantages, there are several reasons why brick-and-mortar-businesses have still not turned obsolete in the year 2020. Buying your items at a physical store lets you leave and immediately start using them. Online shopping usually includes a waiting period of a few days. Despite companies trying to alleviate this wait with one-day deliveries, it is not the same as returning home with the items you bought.
The shopping experience is always enhanced when you can physically look at, touch and inspect the items you are buying. Customers are sometimes wary about making purchases online because what they order is not always what they receive. The quality could go down drastically, and sometimes only a cheap rip-off of the object advertised will be delivered to them. When at a traditional store, you get to thoroughly examine the specific item that you wish to take home. You can check the quality of the item, how the material feels, if everything is intact, etc. When shopping for clothes, you can try them on at the store and see how well they fit. You can size up and down and see how each item looks on you. But while buying clothes online, you make a guess based on your measurements and pray that the outfit fits you well.
The process of online shopping can’t replace the well-loved activity of hanging out at the mall and going shopping with your friends. These stores provide individuals with the ability to socialise and receive feedback from their friends.
Brick-and-mortar businesses during Covid-19
Traditional physical stores have been seeing a decline in sales ever since e-commerce giants such as Amazon became famous around the world. This decline was accelerated when the global pandemic confined people to their homes.
Most stores were asked by the authorities to shut down, and only stores that sold essential items were allowed to remain open. During this window, many loyal customers, who had no other choice, shifted to online stores. Even when shops opened again, there was a risk of infection, and customers were hesitant to return.
Smaller shops had to find means to expand or make provisions that would enable customers to shop while social distancing. Larger shops marked out areas for customers to stand to prevent crowding. They also made use of technology to minimise the number of surfaces the customers had to touch, including the use of automatic doors and contactless payments.
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These traditional businesses soon discovered that it was almost impossible to survive if they continued their old methods. While many developed digital stores, others started window shopping services online through which customers could see exactly what was available in the store and purchase them in person. Gyms and other fitness centres continued charging customers a reduced rate and provided them with online classes via video call.
Businesses also felt the need to come up with innovative solutions that could attract customers, keep them in the store for more extended periods, and even provide them with refreshments. Restaurants that used to witness massive crowds multiple times a day sent home customers with packaged food, used employees to deliver food or partnered with delivery services. When they opened back up, restaurants had to improvise and transform the seating to ensure the proper distance between each table. This meant a reduction in the number of customers they could accommodate at a time.
Brick-and-mortar businesses suffered massive losses during the COVID-19 pandemic. While their primary option to survive was to move online, they also had to come up with innovations to ensure that customers visited their physical stores. Unlike online stores, these shops had to ensure the safety of their staff and customers while making attempts to boost sales.