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Online shop vs. retail store – who rules the future?


Is stationary retail threatened with extinction? Not quite. Current developments show that the fear e-commerce will displace stationary retail trade is rather unfounded. Although the online share is growing steadily, more and more online pure play companies are opening up stationary retail stores, including big names such as Amazon and Zalando. The question is rather how online and offline business can be sensibly harmonised and how they can benefit from each other. In the following guest article, our partner Pickware will show you why both channels have their merits and how you can make the most of them with a sophisticated omnichannel strategy.

Both stationary retail and e-commerce offer you and your customers different advantages and disadvantages. The challenge now is to recognise the merits and make the most of them by combining both channels. Many consumers still prefer to shop in a retail store, which is due, in particular, to its advantages. It therefore makes sense to take a closer look at both channels with regard to their merits.

Advantages of stationary retail

For the customer

  • Has direct contact with the products and can test them live
  • Benefits from individual advice and personal contact
  • Perceives shopping as a social experience
  • Believes the stationary retailer to be more of an expert
  • Feels a higher level of trust and security
  • Bypasses shipping costs and a minimum order value

For the retailer

  • Bypasses price pressure by direct comparison with the competition
  • Can enforce higher prices more easily

Advantages of e-commerce

For the customer

  • Can access the shop regardless of their location
  • Is not tied to opening hours
  • Gets a wider range of products to choose from
  • Benefits from simple price comparison and high market transparency
  • Saves time and money on travelling

For the retailer

  • Can open up a larger market with greater coverage
  • Has the opportunity to collect customer data for personalised offers and advertising

Connecting online and offline business as a growth opportunity

Both sales channels offer consumers and retailers various advantages that can only be fully exploited through intelligent linkage. This connection offers a multitude of new opportunities to meet the needs of customers even more individually and to create a seamless shopping experience across all channels. Many consumers first research a product online and then purchase it in a retail store. Others, on the other hand, seek personal advice in the retail store and then buy the cheapest offer online with convenient delivery (showrooming). This behaviour shows that customers not only have different tastes when shopping and thus different preferences regarding delivery route, order channel or payment option, but also naturally switch between the channels. The goal is to offer a wide range of services with choices across channels to create a shopping experience that is tailored to each customer's needs.

The combination of online and offline retail is therefore particularly viable for the future. This is the only way to tap the maximum customer potential. The type of combination of the two channels is essential here – only through a meaningful omnichannel strategy can the once separate online and offline worlds merge and complement each other. Hybrid forms of shopping, such as Click & Collect, are a good example of meaningful interaction and the use of synergies for stationary retail. The customer orders the products online and can then pick them up flexibly from the store, thereby saving on shipping costs. This creates cross-selling potential, because the customer often decides on additional items in the store. Personal advice and payment at the POS in combination with subsequent home delivery is already a popular service. In addition, the cross-channel view of purchasing behaviour provides a strong data basis for numerous personalisation options. Thanks to access to customer data at the POS, customers can also be addressed personally in the store and given individual offers. With the right POS system, retailers can also benefit from digital customer data that was previously reserved for online retailers.

What does Shopware POS powered by Pickware offer?

In theory, this sounds very simple: by combining both channels, retailers and customers benefit equally. But as is so often the case, promising approaches fail due to time-consuming, expensive and complicated implementation. The prerequisite for optimal cross-channel trade is a centralised merchandise management system with an integrated POS system. Shopware POS powered by Pickware offers you the perfect solution and guarantees a convenient and smooth start for your omnichannel business. Optimise your customer journey, merge your retail store and online shop and jump on the omnichannel train.