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Click & mortar

FULL DISCLOSURE - Fidel O. Abalos (The Freeman) - December 12, 2020 - 12:00am

Admittedly, our bricks-and-mortar businesses are severely deprived for almost a year now.  While it became more pronounced when the virus wreaked havoc globally, the fact is, they were already badly beaten by online retailers way before that. Inarguably, e-commerce or online retail platforms are not just sprouting, they are dominating.

These facts considered, will we see the demise of bricks-and-mortar businesses, we may ask. It depends. With traffic jams a daily struggle and earning a livelihood a rat race, if they will remain purely bricks-and-mortar, most of them will certainly close. Why? Convenience and time with family become more valuable, so, customers will shop at the comforts of their homes.

Therefore, to survive, bricks-and-mortar businesses must embrace the ways of the “click and mortar.” Also called “clicks and bricks”, this business model embraces both offline and online channels. Simply put, it has both the physical store and a website. The best of both worlds, so to speak. With this model, shoppers have the benefits of faster and more comfortable online transactions and the traditional face-to-face service. To some extent, the physical stores become the showroom where they can feel and fit the products. Then, purchase them online. So complementing, isn’t it?

This is not a new business model though. It was started by Pizza Hut in 1994 in the USA, the same year Amazon was founded. Then, in 2000, Wal-Mart started its own and allowed users to browse or shop at the comforts of their homes.

Obviously though, online retail model, as demonstrated by Amazon, is surging ahead and will surge further. So that, some “click and mortar” businesses, such as a chain of department stores or supermarkets, are undertaking some approaches that online platforms can’t do.  

For instance, while shoppers are in the premises, they engage with them. Through the shoppers’ smartphones, they inform them of special offers, items at huge bargains, new arrivals, etc. They inform them of the locations of products and where they can see, touch or fit them before going home and order them online. This way, they are able to highlight their advantages by showing shoppers that usual frustration in just browsing and buying online. On purchases way below expectations.

For click and mortar businesses though, these advantages are not enough to sustain their operations. They must be more analytical. Not only that, they must be able to see the future vividly not by guesswork but by the use of reliable information. Information that are scientifically gathered. Simply put, through the use of appropriate tools that are already available.

Probably, never heard by most of us, there is a platform that analyzes traffic in physical stores or bricks and mortar. Cosmose, for one, has three products that tracks foot traffic in bricks and mortar stores to “help predict customer behavior.” These are Cosmose Analytics, Cosmose AI and Cosmose Media. 

Cosmose Analytics “tracks customers’ movements inside brick-and-mortar stores.” It analyzes “consumers’ offline shopping habits and learn how the stores are doing against competitors.” It “analyzes shopper’s behavior from many perspectives (store, brand, category, shopping mall) across weeks, days and hours.” A store, therefore, can easily “get valuable shoppers insights.”  It helps the store understands “who are its customers, which stores they visit most often, which competitors it should pay attention to and where to open a new store.”

Cosmose AI, on the other hand, is a data analytics and prediction platform. It helps “retailers create marketing campaigns and increase sales.” It uses “artificial neural networks to increase the accuracy of location positioning, predict who is likely to visit a certain store and predict who should see store’s campaign in order to achieve its sales goals.”  Every day, it “tracks offline shopping habits of 1 billion smartphones and matches this against online advertising and online behavioral data.” 

Cosmose Media is used for “targeting online ads.” It is used “to connect with offline audiences via online ads.” It keeps “track offline shopping behavior of over 1 billion people.”  Therefore, the store can “finally take advantage of this data and increase its advertising ROI.”

Clearly, therefore, while the click and mortar stores will claim to have the best of both worlds, that will also mean they have competition in both. If they have to stay in business profitably, they must also know their customers’ behavior “through analytics and artificial intelligence” and proper use of online ads. 

foabalos@yahoo.com

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