The death and rebirth of retail

Article tagged with: Strategy

For retailers wanting a positive spin on what the future holds, there’s precious little out there at the moment, but Michael Appelbaum’s take on where retail is heading is a fantastic breath of fresh air, whether you’re an established or a challenger brand in retail.

His five retail predictions all turn on a similar central idea: the physical store has something that e-commerce doesn’t…yet. That’s right in line with what old-school storeowners who truly know their customers have always said, that nothing beats in-store, where the shopper can get personal service, speak to someone knowledgeable, and can see and touch what they’re buying.

Appelbaum points out that “phygital,” or the blend of online and in-store, will become a powerful trend as innovative retailers embrace technology, but in subtle and (for the shopper) often invisible ways. The rise of voice search can’t be ignored: comScore predicts voice commerce in the US will become a $40 billion industry by 2023. Frictionless integration between voice search and in-store pickup offers a huge opportunity for retailers prepared to embrace that channel.

Online doesn’t have the physical edge

And remember all those abandoned shopping carts online? The reasons why customers didn’t finish a purchase can be many, from lack of time to uncertainty whether they really wanted what was in the basket. The store is still the best place to provide customers with the tactile experience of getting close to the products they’re planning to purchase. Retailers who understand that customers frequently prefer to search online but touch in-store are best poised to make the best of both the physical and the digital side of retail.

Retailers who understand that customers frequently prefer to search online but touch in-store are best poised to make the best of both the physical and the digital side of retail.

But a lot of that will come down to the retailer’s ability to put the wow back into bricks and mortar. And that could mean embracing a radical concept, as espoused by futurist Doug Stephens: that retail will ultimately become a marketing function, not a sales function. 

Making good use of generous open spaces inside the store, and allowing a visit in-store to feel like a treat, similar to visiting a restaurant or cinema, can all contribute to the all-important experience — one that online simply can’t duplicate right now. Delightful store experiences are more about cementing the retailer’s brand in the mind of the shopper, and less about looking at how much the shopper purchased during a single visit.

The courage to innovate 

Appelbaum’s entire piece is a bracing bit of good news for retailers who’ve long argued that bricks-and-mortar have no fully effective online corollary. 

But the hard work is there to be done. If a store is serious about playing up its strengths, including the ability to offer a tangible experience, it will need to think more creatively than ever about how to extend that tangibility with experiences like demos and classes in-store, always with the objective of turning the shopper into a brand advocate. 

And that’s something that challenger retail brands can do as easily as established brands: it’s all about boldness, and a willingness to innovate.

Have a look at the full set of insights and predictions from Appelbaum, here from Shopper Insights.

 

Ref.

Applebaum, M. (2018). Retail is Dead – Long Live Retail!. [online] Shopper Marketing.


Posted by
aperionsolutions

Dated
03.05.2019