By showing customers exactly which items are available and where, retailers are going to have much more success driving in-store purchases.

Today’s traditional retailers find themselves faced with a troubling paradox: online competitors are their biggest threat, yet the only way they can stay afloat is by aggressively embracing digital strategies.

But then again, if these retailers had a better understanding of why the internet is so appealing to consumers, they might not find their predicament so impossible.

While nothing can reverse the impact that eCommerce has had on retail, traditional enterprises continue to hold a number of advantages over online-only retailers.

Those who purchase an item from Amazon rather than an outlet have to wait for their product to be delivered, pay extra for that delivery, and if it doesn’t meet their expectations, go through the tricky process of returning it.

Despite the success of mobile and web-based retail, many customers would prefer to make the trip to a physical location if it meant coming back with what they need.

The problem is that when the customer doesn’t find the item they want at a store, they’ve invested twice the effort and still come back empty-handed. With digital in-store displays, traditional retailers could start winning back their share of sales without having to play Amazon on its home field.

Why We Shop Online

The tendency of many commentators has been to credit the success of Amazon and eCommerce to the ease of ordering items without leaving the house. But one advantage of online shopping these analysts haven’t given enough emphasis on is information and availability.

While you aren’t necessarily guaranteed to find what you need with an online vendor, or that what you need will be in-stock, the frustration you experience in trying to find that item is minimized — you quickly find it’s unavailable, then seek an alternative plan of action.

That frustration is magnified when you don’t find what you need at a brick-and-mortar store. After driving to a store, seeking out the item there, and waiting for employee assistance, just to find the item isn’t in stock, many customers feel altogether turned off from the brand.

What Digital Displays Can Do

By taking the mystery out of offline shopping, we can take out much of the frustration, too.

Plenty of traditional retailers think of search results as only being useful for directing users to online stores, but through the use of digital in-store displays that tell customers which locations have the item they need in stock, they can also use them to drive in-store sales.

A recent Google study found that, of all the consumers who avoid in-store shopping, 25% say they do it because they can’t know if what they’re seeking will be available.

By using local information to tell users which nearby locations have what they want, how much it will cost there, and what the closest location’s address and phone number is, shoppers will opt for the built-in benefit of taking their product home with them.

The internet can enable retailers to do more than what online competitors already do best — it can help them fill the gaps that exist in even their most loyal customers’ shopping experience. It’s the simplest way to incorporate omnichannel into a retail brand’s repertoire, and the traditional enterprise that fails to use it will always see tech as a threat, not as a tool.