Open Your Doors to Online Shoppers

Diversify your business and grow local market share with a “click and collect” strategy

Words by Ryan Atkinson

For years now, brick-and-mortar retailers have stood by, wringing their hands as their customers steadily shifted their spending to the online channel. But all is not lost for specialty bicycle retailers; if they put the effort into providing their customers an online shopping option, they stand to not only maintain local market share, but maybe even grow it.

In fact, current research indicates that a growing number of consumers are opting to shop online and pick up their purchases in-store.

In a survey conducted in August 2016 by Internet Retailer, 57% of respondents reported having made a purchase online that they picked up in-store. The most common two reasons for their choice? To avoid shipping charges, and for convenience.

A similar survey conducted in late 2016 by iVend Retail also reported that 57.5% of the 1,000 shoppers they polled use the omnichannel shopping service of buying online and picking up in-store.

This trend makes sense when compared to the results of a BigCommerce study of the top three factors influencing a purchase decision. In order of importance, the top influences were price, shipping cost/speed, and discount offers.

So it makes sense that the option to shop online and pick up at a local store combines the always-touted convenience of shopping online with the gratification of collecting a purchase quickly. Why wait days for shipping when an in-stock item could be in-hand in just a few hours? Add to that the option of saving on shipping, and many consumers count that as a serious win.

Now, aside from appealing to more consumers, are there additional benefits to retailers taking advantage of the buy-online-pick-up-in-store trend?

Major retailer J.C. Penney thinks so. After seeing a big jump in the share of their online orders that were picked up from a local store, executives at the chain reported that 40% of those online shoppers make additional purchases while visiting the physical local store to pick up their initial purchase. When customers visit J.C. Penney to pick up their order, these customers shop at the store and buy more items.

If this trend carries over to the cycling industry, it could have a major impact on your bottom line. You can capture a portion of online buying in your market and, further, capture a greater share of customer spending by increasing transaction sizes when customers see your physical selection and gain exposure to your trained sales team.

Your product catalog should be the star of that show. By allowing consumers to filter products by in-stock merchandise, you’re enabling those shoppers to fulfill their desire for efficient and convenient shopping. Their instant education on what merchandise is available in their local bike shop allows them to shop online in the comfort of their home or office knowing that their purchase will be available to them shortly.

In the majority of cases, sales growth will still come from in-store purchasing. But, if you can capture online sales as well, that’s a win—especially when those orders are for in-store pickup.

Ryan Atkinson is President and Co-Owner of SmartEtailing, which provides website, marketing, and data solutions to help independent bicycle retailers compete in an evolving retail world.