As we enter the third decade of the 21st century the concept of ‘going digital’ has become less of a choice and more of a necessity for most retailers. However, many businesses that don’t already have an established e-commerce presence often feel they lack choices when it comes to embracing the online world. Going digital is regarded as a move that instantly requires a complete end-to-end e-commerce process that starts with online sales and ends in home delivery – a route that poses a number of logistical challenges for those used to dealing in ‘bricks and mortar’ commerce.
The challenge is particularly difficult in fast-moving goods industries like groceries, where timely delivery capabilities are required. For a small retailer, establishing this process can take up time, budget and resources that might have a negative impact on the business’s traditional store offering.
The Digital Storefront Alternative
A complete end-to-end e-commerce process, however, is not the only way to go digital. It is possible to benefit from an online presence without having a full online retail process in place. The concept of a ‘digital storefront’ can be used to provide a representation of the items or produce available within individual stores, without making these available to purchase online.
One example of this might be a retailer displaying up-to-date information on available stock and offering a click and collect service, where payment is made in store. Another example might be a large group using a single digital storefront to display the availability of stock within individual stores, so customers can create digital shopping lists ahead on a store visit.
This type of digital storefront approach can also help businesses reach new customers. This is especially true for customers that are part of the Millennial and Gen Z generations. These customers are more likely to find shops and products online and are more likely to use features such as digital shopping lists. A digital storefront which allows them to engage with the business in this manner is therefore an essential part of the brand, while also having the benefit or reducing costs associated with other forms of customer marketing, such as printed brochures.
Ultimately, a digital storefront can connect online customers with bricks and mortar stores and provide retailers with the benefits of an online presence, without the full-scale implementation of an end-to-end e-commerce solution.