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

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.

VMSD Staff

Drawing on more than 125 years of history serving the retail design market, VMSD magazine provides retail professionals with the most up-to-date, innovative retail design ideas and industry news through its industry-leading magazine, website, social media channels and bulletins.

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