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Take That, Tired Narrative: Research Says Physical Stores Benefit When Customers Buy Online

Sweet serendipity for brick and mortar.




New research throws cold water on the notion that expanding e-commerce options hurt physical stores, with Harvard Business Review offering evidence of just the opposite.

In an article expounding on their research, Dr. Michael Ketzenberg and Dr. M. Serkan Akturk say they found that buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) service can help retailers boost in-store sales.

To better understand the impact of BOPIS, the doctors analyzed online and in-store sales of a national retail chain, before and after a competitor launched a BOPIS service.

They found that, after the competitor’s BOPIS launch, the retailer’s sales dropped by 4.7 percent online and 1.8 percent in-store, with the “decline in in-store sales [being] greater the closer a store was to one of the competitor’s BOPIS locations. This suggests that by launching BOPIS, the competitor was not only stealing the company’s online sales, but also their in-store traffic.”

The researchers say their new findings are consistent with an earlier determination that when a BOPIS service is introduced, retailers experience decreased online sales and increased in-store sales, with an overall positive impact on net sales.

Their conclusion: “Ultimately, foot traffic is and will continue to be the lifeblood of retail, and BOPIS can bridge the gap between the convenience of e-commerce and the profitability of in-store shopping. Given its many advantages, retailers should consider focusing their marketing efforts on promoting their BOPIS services.”


The next time you hear the old song about e-commerce killing brick and mortar, now you have some ammunition.

Read more at Harvard Business Review.



MasterClass: ‘Re-Sparkling’ Retail: Using Store Design to Build Trust, Faith and Brand Loyalty

HOW CAN WE EMPOWER and inspire senior leaders to see design as an investment for future retail growth? This session, led by retail design expert Ian Johnston from Quinine Design, explores how physical stores remain unmatched in the ability to build trust, faith, and loyalty with your customers, ultimately driving shareholder value.

Presented by:
Ian Johnston
Founder and Creative Director, Quinine Design

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