According to recent research from Forrester, online retail sales in the United States will increase from $334 billion in 2015 to $480 billion in 2019. How will this increase in online sales affect small brick-and-mortar businesses? By understanding the benefits of these businesses over online retailing, you can find new ways to help keep your traditional business strong.

Industries With an Online Presence

The Forrester research found that "69 percent of the U.S. online population regularly buys products online, with clothing, consumer electronics, and computers generating about a third of all online shopping dollars in the U.S." This research indicates certain industries, such as furniture and auto parts — which are traditionally purchased at brick-and-mortar businesses — are seeing an increase in online sales activity. These industries will have compound annual growth rates of 15 percent and 11 percent, respectively. The Forrester report also found that shoppers are more comfortable researching and buying these types of products online than ever before. By 2019, the music business is predicted to be almost completely digital.

Importance of Brick-and-Mortar Businesses

Despite the increase in online sales, shopping at brick and mortars is an integral part of daily life for many people. According to Internet Retailer, U.S. adults who regularly shop online say they purchase about 16 percent of their products online. This leaves a lot of room for opportunity for brick-and-mortar businesses.

Shoppers are generally attracted to buying products in-store because they can physically touch and possibly try the product before they commit to the purchase. This is a clear advantage over online shopping. However, with the rise of various technologies and services for consumers to make purchases on the go, brick-and-mortar businesses need to find new ways to keep their customers.

How to Keep Your Business Strong

Because online businesses mostly compete on price, you can differentiate your business from online competitors by offering unbeatable customer service. In-store events are a great way to help drive customers into your store. For example, create special buying opportunities on certain days for your most loyal customers.

Online businesses typically have far less overhead than traditional businesses, which often creates an advantage over brick-and-mortar stores. Use technology to automate processes and alleviate some overhead expenses. For instance, offer an automated checkout process to reduce or eliminate the number of cashiers. This could lead to faster checkouts and a more enjoyable experience for your customers.

You can also combine your traditional storefront efforts with an online presence to reap the best of both worlds. This can give customers the ability to order products online and pick them up in the store within the same day.

By finding new ways to strengthen your business, you'll help give your customers the shopping experience they yearn for. In turn, you can solidify your business to take a firm stance in the face of online competition.

Tags: brick and mortar businesses Overhead Business Location E-Commerce