What is the value of merging In-store and Digital Shopping?

This question has existed since ecommerce became possible in 1991.

That was the year when the Internet was opened for commercial use.

It continued to be a question when digital shopping become more popular a few years later when persistent connections and greater security protocols were put in place.

The question was raised again in July, 1995.

But no one knew it.

That’s the year when a fledgeling online retailer named Amazon opened for business.


Back then, most of “progressive retailers” already had the answer: there was no value in merging in-store and digital shopping.

Many – if not most – traditional retailers ran two separate companies.

Two different P&Ls, two different sets of employees and two different inventories.


Better tax treatment. And, it prevented channel blurring.

This was an internal driven decision.

One driven by ignoring shoppers.

And, a mistake that is even repeated today.

But, slowly, imperceptibly the power shifted. To the shopper.

Buying online became a greater part of our culture.

Price, convenience and greater selection appealed to us all.

And, ever since, this has accelerated.

Some statistics to prove this out:

  • 67% of Millennials and 56% of Gen Xers prefer to shop on online rather than in-store.

What’s happening to brick-and-mortar?

Before addressing the value of merging In-store and digital shopping, let’s look at what’s happening to bricks-and-mortar.

In July 1995 when Amazon opened the first online bookstore, traditional retailers scoffed.

After all, who would want to buy a book online when there were many local stores to choose from?

Turns out, most of us!

In-store sales rose by only 1.5% in 2016.

And, it’s estimated that major retailers will close up to 15% of their stores in 2017.

At the same time, eCommerce will grow 14%.

You might say, 2017 appears to be a bad year to own a store!

But, looking at growth is a false positive.

The overwhelming majority of retail sales still happen in store.

As digital sales grow – and they will continue to outpace the in-store growth numbers – it’s important retailers think about how these changes impact their strategies and operations.

And, how it changes marketing outside and inside those stores.

The one constant between in-store and digital shopping?

The Shopper.

And, regardless of growth and total sales, shoppers still like to shop in stores.

Even Amazon realizes this as they are establishing physical stores

Brands must embrace both the in-store and digital shopping eco-system.

This includes thinking about how best to address the path to purchase, regardless of channel.

The following questions must be answered by anyone in retail (no matter their size):

  • How can I best drive traffic to my store?
  • How can I convert shoppers to buyers?
  • How can I drive increased transactions?
  • How can I get shoppers to buy more?

So, asking “What is the value of merging In-store and Digital Shopping?” is a trick question.

The value is based on your store and your shopper.

But, one thing is clear: ignore either at your peril.