Empty aisles. Echoing footsteps. Silence where there used to be chatter. Real-world retail is clearly suffering. And now new research suggests that if bricks-and-mortar merchants want to survive, they should go virtual big-time. Flatland is calling.

According to the recent report, U.S. consumers are steadily moving online. Why? Well, a heap of them (94% of the study’s respondents) are comparing prices. And a solid number are looking for coupons (67%), while many are simply enjoying the virtual shopping experience (93%).

So, how might traditional retailers catch this wave? If you apply your years of retail prowess online, your results could surprise you. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Sears recently unveiled a multichannel-services platform called “Shop Your Way,” designed to allow seamless shopping across all Sears channels, Retailer Daily reports. The Shop Your Way page offers a range of options: Shop online and pick it up at the store, shop by phone, get an online helper or sign up for Sear’s in-home service.
  • JCPenney launched a virtual-runway feature on its e-commerce site that allows online shoppers to use “3-D” technology to try clothes on online, Retailer Daily says. Cool stuff.

Features like these help evoke the old-style store experience in brand-new ways online.

Make those retail charms virtual. Retailers can actually hold an advantage online—when they find new ways to make the virtual experience echo the store experience their customers have grown to love.

Source: Retailer Daily.