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Soon, difference between online and in-store sales will be erased

July 28, 2014

If you're looking to sell products in-store, then you're going to need an online presence.

If you’re looking to sell products in-store, then you’re going to need an online presence. That’s the conclusion reached by the latest Forrester report, which will surely illustrate to business owners that e-commerce and online marketing is of the highest importance – even if they don’t currently sell products over the web via online credit card payment processing pages.

According to an Internet Retailer summary, the Forrester report found that more than $1.7 billion in revenue will come from in-store sales that occurred specifically because of the internet by the year 2018. The study projects that consumers will research products online and then buy them in-store to almost massive extents.

“Consumers are ‘preshopping’ across more categories on digital devices, including phones and tablets, while the availability of more information at shoppers’ fingertips even when they are on the go is a significant driver of the growth in cross-channel shopping,” wrote Sucharita Mulpuru, the researcher behind the Forrester study, according to the Internet Retailer report.

Forrester found that roughly 68 percent of all U.S. adults now use their phones to access the internet while shopping at a brick-and-mortar store, according to the report. Many of these individuals are using the devices to research information that will help them decide whether or not to purchase a product they found at that store – illustrating one way that online devices are having a major effect on in-store sales.

The company also expects that online sales in the U.S. will be trending upward, even as online shoppers begin to purchase in-store more often. According to Internet Retailer, the firm is currently projecting that online sales will account for roughly $414 billion in retail revenue by the year 2018 – up by a huge percentage from the $294 billion projected for online sales this year. E-commerce sales in the U.S. already increased by roughly 17 percent over the past year, so it’s clear that online sales are beginning to take up a major percentage of any brand’s revenue.

One executive offers advice: merge your online and in-store sales strategies
Another recent report, from the National Retail Federation, proved that many other executives outside of Forrester are convinced that online presence is a necessary part of in-store retail sales. The Federation report detailed, for instance, the ways that John Hazen – vice president of omnichannel commerce at True Religion Apparel – has been able to boost web marketing efforts at his company by stressing that “e-commerce shouldn’t be viewed or treated as a website, but as a business.” According to Hazen, many businesses aren’t taking full advantage of the possibilities offered by an online presence because they don’t have the right perception in regards to what a well-designed website can do to improve revenue. 

“Call it a hack or a trick, but this is a way to change the perception within your business and get the rest of your organization to look at your e-commerce as a business and not just a number,” he advised, according to the National Retail Federation. 

His advice essentially reaches the same conclusion that the aforementioned Forrester study reached: if you’re hoping to find significant sales increases at your brick-and-mortar store, then you’re going to need to engage with e-commerce. The internet isn’t just for selling products anymore. Now – much like television or print advertisements – the web represents an entirely essential aspect of your overall branding and marketing efforts. So know that if your company doesn’t have a presence online, over the course of the next few years, you’ll be sure to find diminished consumer presence in your stores as a direct result. 

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