Real life stores are a relief to shoppers

Brick and Mortar Stores Offer Sanity and Community to Burnt-Out Shoppers

You made it through Black Friday and Cyber Monday, cleaned up the mess, and are breathing a much-needed sigh of relief. Do you think that as a shop owner, you are the only one looking for a break from the chaos of frantic buying that happens during the holiday rush?

I have good news for you: customers are suffering from burn-out, too! It's not just the holidays and all the hustle and bustle that has people tired. It's online shopping, too, with the information overload and dizzying array of choices. Why is that good news for shop owners? You have an opportunity now to offer a refreshing alternative to the online shopping experience.

There has been talk for a while about how brick and mortar stores are making a comeback. Originally predicted to suffer a steady decline, physical stores have recently bounced back, boosted by a strong economy and changes in consumer values. Some stores adapted to an increasing demand for convenience by allowing customers to use technology as part of the shopping experience, and they have especially thrived, as in this New York Times report. For example, Walmart lets you order and pay online and then pick up curbside. You don't have to offer merchandise pickup services or be a one-stop-shop to reap the rewards of a physical store, though.

There are two benefits in particular that I want to focus on here that you can leverage to your benefit – curation and community. While there is no reason these two attributes cannot be applied to online retail stores (with some creativity), they are especially easy to implement in physical ones.


Let's talk about the Jam Experiment. In 2000, psychology researchers tried an experiment at an upscale grocery store in which two different displays of jams were put out on various days. Sales of those jams were tracked. One set of days featured 24 types, and the other included only 6. The displays that only included 6 saw a ten-fold increase in sales! This phenomenon has been discussed extensively in the retail community as the paradox of choice, and you can read more about its effect on both sales and customer satisfaction here. One of the main ideas is that customers presented with too many choices are paralyzed by indecision.

Curation, or the careful selection of items within a collection, can tell a story or solve a problem. This is what makes books and formal educational courses valuable despite all the information we have available online. Without them, we are swimming in information, and since we don't know what we don't know, relying on a trusted resource (you and your brand) can save time and mental energy. People are trying to make lifestyle changes and are looking for peace and sanity. Walking into a store that includes items selected to solve their problems is a refreshing change.

A carefully curated store allows people to skip scrolling through hundreds of options as part of an online shopping experience before settling on the best one. They can avoid reading online customer reviews (unless you want to include that information on your signage!) and they don’t need to sort results by whether or not they have at least 4 out of 5 stars. You have done the work for them. Having knowledgable, friendly staff is key. In addition to talking to customers, they can create shelftalkers that are effective in bringing books and products to the forefront.

Brick and mortar stores have a built-in advantage in that they are limited on how much merchandise they can offer due to showroom size and other logistics. Make the most of your well-curated store by providing products arranged in ways that are easy to navigate with an overall neat appearance. Shelfwiz shelftalkers have a neat, tidy appearance that blends with almost any style and elevates the look of storefronts and showrooms.


Many brick and mortar stores who offer a sense of community are seeing an upswing in sales. It doesn't have to be a physical gathering space within your store, but that would be an added bonus, especially in the case of bookstores that feel more like relaxed libraries. Building brand trust and relationships through various channels such as community events, social media interaction, and word-of-mouth can all start in your store.

This NPR article has great ideas on how a bookstore can succeed by fostering a sense of community: Be More Than A Bookstore: A Brick-And-Mortar Shop's Key To Success. It discusses a store that displays their books with the covers facing out, having been selected and arranged using customer ratings and other information. If you already have Shelfwiz shelftalkers, these can be re-printed easily using our online templates so you can experiment with this in your store.

Book groups and author events are also used to bring people in from the local community, offering intangible benefits that online stores can't. A sense of community may start in your physical store, but it doesn't have to be limited to it. It can include your activity on social media, your website, and your overall brand.

Key Points

  • Create a calm, inviting atmosphere by presenting curated merchandise in an orderly way and ensuring access to helpful staff
  • Look for ways to create a sense of community and make a connection with customers

download our

Shelfwiz Sheet Templates


Use our PDF and Word formatted Shelfwiz Sheet Templates to give your Shelf Talkers a custom look.

download now