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November 9, 2017

From Brick and Mortar to Digital: How to Nail the Transition

With these strategies, your company can become an Internet success story — no matter how accustomed your team is to brick-and-mortar selling.

If you’ve been to your local shopping centers recently, you’ve surely noticed an undeniable trend: Increasingly, companies are closing their physical stores and pouring resources into their digital operations. Sometimes it isn’t by choice, with stores like Payless declaring bankruptcy, and Ralph Lauren closing flagship stores to focus on digital. Yes, obviously our society is in love with online shopping.

Not every business successfully transitions from the real world to the virtual one, though—remember poor Blockbuster? Unable to compete with streaming services or Netflix in its start-up phase, Blockbuster was unable to change its fundamental business model and had to liquidate its stores. Lesson learned: To make it on the Internet, you must always be quick to act and thoroughly prepared.

Digital solutions can aid in building brand loyalty and engagement by automatically applying coupons and cash-back offers at checkout.

The State of the Online Marketplace

Digital shopping is a major force in global retail. According to a Pew Research Center study released in December 2016, a whopping 79 percent of Americans have bought items online. Consumers don’t just like digital businesses; they trust them. When Brand Keys, a corporate consulting agency, put out its annual list of “Loyalty Leaders” in 2016, 16 of the 20 companies with the most loyal customers were exclusively or mainly digital. Those names included technology giants like Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google, as well as other companies like Zappos.

Popular Brands, Online Powerhouses

Nordstrom is a terrific example of a brand that’s transferred much of its activity into the digital arena. It still operates physical stores, but it offers all its products online. They’re easy to order and return, and mobile shoppers can reach Nordstrom stylists for assistance. In addition, the company’s social media pages are packed with helpful photos, discussion forums, and videos.

Saks Fifth Avenue is another role model. In the mid-2000s, this high-end British apparel brand made major investments in digital commerce. It pioneered the practice of sharing fashion events online, and it now boasts tens of millions of Internet fans and followers. Indeed, Saks has a robust presence on Instagram, Snapchat, Apple TV and various other digital channels.

How You Can Go Digital

Fortunately, your company can become an Internet success story no matter how accustomed your team is to brick-and-mortar selling.

First, you’ll need an overall plan and timeline for your digital activities, including specific sales targets. Also, make sure that your staff members and other major stakeholders such as your investors support your strategies.

As you strive for digital mastery, you must learn how to bring businesses and consumers closer together. Look for apps that automatically apply price reductions and cash-back deals at checkout. Cash-back offers generally range between two and five percent of the total amount spent, but can reach as high as 20 percent.

Such discounts are vital. In June 2017, the analytics company comScore reported that, for 81 percent of digital shoppers, price is the most important consideration when they’re deciding what to buy. Plus, half said that coupons are one of the facets they seek in retail apps.

Keep studying your analytics

Find out which parts of your website, app and social media pages are the most visited and which have the fewest views. Delete or revise elements that aren’t attracting eyeballs.

Similarly, take advantage of social media listening tools to get a sense of what people are saying about you on their accounts. If any aspects of your brand are criticized frequently, replace or upgrade them.

What’s more, your company’s online personality should be consistent. That doesn’t mean you should be predictable, just that none of your posts should be jarringly out of character. For example, if you own a family restaurant chain, you shouldn’t post any risqué content. When you’ve conducted thorough market research and know the demographics of your typical customers, it’ll help you establish your Internet identity.

Above all, whenever consumers interact with your brand online, they should have a positive experience that makes them want to return. Your pages should be simple to navigate and read, with clear and brief product descriptions. You should make it easy for people to get in touch with friendly sales representatives. You ought to offer personalized deals, and you need to provide the fastest delivery services you possibly can.

Naturally, businesses perform the best when their goals are aligned with their customers’ goals. Consumers want fast and friendly service, good value and high quality. When companies prioritize those characteristics, they’re poised to thrive, even if they’ve just recently moved to the digital realm.


A Journalism graduate from one of the top universities in Asia, the University of the Philippines, Katrina Angco started work in the media industry right after college as editorial assistant of renowned Philippine fashion publication, Metro Magazine. She went on to become managing editor of the same title in less than two years, and juggled this post with other special projects under ABS-CBN Publishing. A passionate writer through and through, she decided to make a leap outside of her comfort zone, trading lifestyle journalism for content strategy for fast-growing start-up Piggy Inc. In the months she has been with the company, she’s been having a blast immersing herself in tech and business lingo, learning from the company’s insightful and driven management team. Helping people turn their lives around by schooling them on saving has become her goal, thanks to Piggy. See more of her work on As you strive for digital mastery, free browser extension Piggy can assist. Also available on Android and iOS, the company app works to bring businesses and consumers closer together by educating both groups about retail issues.