"Retailers have complained incessantly about unfair competition from e-commerce stores," writes Mark Riffey at the Business is Personal blog, "but not enough have done something about it."

Online shopping is undeniably convenient and efficient. After all, customers can browse, comparison-shop and make purchases from the comfort of their favorite chair. But—despite all the talk of instant gratification—there's one thing no e-commerce retailer can do: give their customers a non-digital product right now. Even with a pricey up-charge, most online stores can do no more than promise next-day delivery.

According to Riffey, "Instant gratification (or close enough) happens when I can drive 18 minutes, walk into the store, plop down my Bert and Ernie-branded Mastercard and walk out with a product under my arm after being helped by a salesperson or clerk who acts like it matters that I walked into their store."

"Retail stores often fail because they don't exist to serve the customer, or they don't recognize that the reason for getting a sale is to get a new customer," Riffey notes. "[T]hink of what the customer is trying to accomplish and help them do so," he advises. "Next time, they might think of you again—and you might have the item they need in stock."

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