[Cape Town]

Key reasons why brick and mortar stores will remain relevant

The internet and the resulting digital innovations have positively altered lifestyles and how business is done.

The retail space has not been spared with unprecedented digital developments and shopping platforms being established.

In short, from the traditional brick and mortar stores, E-commerce has become the normal way of buying goods and services.

This change of dynamics driven by the presence of the internet has however not taken away the value and relevance of brick-and-mortar stores.

One platform which is bridging the gap between digital and brick and mortar stores is Guzzle. Guzzle is a proudly South African (locally based team) catalogue aggregator which makes available print and digital catalogues from leading retailers.

Key reasons why brick and mortar stores will remain relevant

Rural retail customers

With all the digital shopping platforms currently available, a huge number of South Africa’s national population still have very limited access to the internet with data being highly expensive for some.

A big number out of this demographic group is also more likely to use cash payment than electronic payment. It’s, therefore, safe to say retail consumers in rural and peri-urban areas will continue to use brick and mortar stores due to preference for cash buying in addition to poor internet access coupled with poor and non-existent logistics and delivery infrastructure.

Feel and touch factor

One thing E-commerce customers can agree on is the fact that you can never be 100% sure what you see on an online ad is exactly what you will receive.

You don’t get the opportunity to physically interact with the product before you buy it. Brick and mortar stores counter against misleading information and images in the digital space because shoppers get a chance to see, touch, feel and even try a product before buying.


Any retail shopper in the digital space has experienced at one time or the other the misfortune of dealing with product scams, non-functional items especially appliances and electronics.

While many E-commerce stores have a return policy in such circumstances, this doesn’t happen immediately. With brick-and-mortar stores, returning a product is as simple as going back to the store and returning it without unnecessary delays, stress, and often loss of money through shipping costs and potentially business revenue if a buyer planned to resell the product.

Added costs

With brick-and-mortar stores, the price you see on the label is the price you pay and you don’t need to worry about delivery times, missing parcels in transit, damaged goods, and often and most importantly unbudgeted for courier and delivery fees which usually get
disclosed after the order is processed.

All these are common bad experiences for E-commerce shoppers that brick and mortar customers don’t need to worry about.

Brand experience

Retail stores and products are brands that don’t exist in a vacuum least for those who understand retail branding.

Any shopper in a brick-and-mortar store not only walks away with a product but carries with him or her store experience, brand and store culture, and retail concepts.

E-commerce stores don’t give a holistic brand experience which brick and mortar stores have in abundance.

Customer service

Brick and mortar stores have trained staff who are readily available to interact and answer questions from shoppers.

While E-commerce stores have online customer service, it can’t be compared to the more personal in-store experience. Shoppers have the opportunity to negotiate discounts, but it’s also an opportunity for the retailer to upsell and increase profit margins.

In short, you can’t compare face-to-face business to faceless business. As a matter of fact, many shoppers feel a sense of security when dealing with someone they can see, as opposed to someone they can’t see.

From the above, it’s clear to see that while digital E-commerce stores are creating an impact in the retail space, brick and mortar stores are still far from disappearing.

In-store shoppers who like to check what’s available and possibly find deals can rely on Guzzle, used by over 700 000 retail shoppers to plan their shopping each month. Guzzle can also be accessed on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Guzzle Media