Download The Clarion-Ledger app for free on the Apple app store or Google Play.

Justin Sellers/The Clarion-Ledger

America’s shoppers are increasingly opting for online purchasing vs. in store shopping. Some of the reasons include convenience, not having to battle crowds, pricing, free shipping and more choices available. What can business owners do to compete and keep their share of retail sales?

More: The 3 C’s of success: Collaborate, communicate, cooperate

Even though 94 percent of all retail sales take place in stores, e-commerce sales are expected to increase annually by 17 percent, reaching $414 billion by 2018. Reasons that shoppers prefer stores include the ability to see, touch and feel the product, in addition to trying it out. Taking it home immediately is another reason. There are notable differences in shopping preferences based on age, gender and location. People who live in more rural areas tend to shop more in stores. Ease in returns is another reason.

The growing trend of online shopping demands that store owners develop strategies to combat the onslaught of online shopping. Here are some of the things a business can do:

  • Ensure the store offers a compelling shopping experience.
  • Have ample inventory with lots of choices.
  • Make pricing competitive.
  • Have trained employees who provide excellent customer service.
  • Offer free gift wrapping.
  • Offer amenities like complimentary coffee or cold drinks.
  • Have a place for the companion of the shopper to sit.
  • Run specials or sales to attract customers.
  • Have a convenient location.
  • Create a website and offer online sales in addition to in store shopping

Many big box stores have experienced a boost in sales by offering online shopping. Some who have had success include Macy’s,…