Over the past few years, we’ve seen the dissolution of many large brick-and-mortar stores both internationally and in Canada, including Walmart (154 stores), Finish Line (150 stores), Gap (35 stores) and more. While big-box department stores like Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue are expanding, other retailers are closing due to declining sales, high rent and the struggle to compete in an extremely competitive retail environment.
For many retailers, the closures are a part of a shift in strategy and focus in order to adapt to the new norm of retail and consumer expectation for the omnichannel shopping experience. For example, Macy's is closing 40 stores this year, cutting off a big clunky footprint and trying to reach its customer base with a smaller format and digital experience. Kohl’s started 2016 with high inventory and will also close 18 of its stores across the U.S. in order to pilot a smaller footprint.
It's important to remember that store closings in an omnichannel world don't have nearly as much significance as they did when a physical store was the only sales outlet.
- About Money
More Omnichannel, Less Stores
For those retailers who have e-commerce and m-commerce, store closings represent little more than a significant change in strategy and investment. A core focus in recent years is around accelerating integrations of multi-platforms, in-store, online and mobile to unify the shopping experience. Retailers invest a lot of capital in a technology overhaul and it can be complicated and take a long time to evaluate the solutions and implement them correctly.
Even with the best technology implemented well, there is still a chance some technology will not be adopted by customers; thus, retailers won’t get the ROI they expected. One way to mitigate the risk is by choosing digital and platform partners that have innovative infrastructure that will evolve with the retailer as customer behavior and expectations change over time.
Deliver More in Less Space
Alternatively, a simpler solution that can easily be implemented and tested out to tackle inventory and brand inconsistency problems is an endless aisle solution. Endless aisle can solve many of the challenges retailers have that lead to a store closing. Endless aisle technology enables retailers to introduce stores with a smaller footprint without compromising the breadth of their offering.
Instead of sinking money into the high cost of real estate and keeping up with customer demand by stocking soon-to-be-stale inventory, retailers can virtually showcase their entire product lines using an endless aisle solution. While customers can touch and try the products, they can also access product variety such as color and size and complete their purchase. Endless aisle offers the customer the ability to get what they truly want every time they visit the store, and not have to seek out what they were looking for at a competitor. The solution is customizable, allowing for retailers to modify the use based on how their shoppers purchase their products.
A screen could be placed near new collections to display and complement accessories, or it could be located on the end cap of a bigger screen to inspire shoppers and create brand impact. The best part is you can always move the screen around, change its content and test the product assortment performance.
Keep Your Brand Story Going
An additional benefit of endless aisle that most people may not realize is it can be an excellent tool to communicate your brand story. Whatever customers experience online or on a mobile channel, they can get the same content in the store where they are right in front of a retailer’s merchandise.
Some endless aisle solutions run on a touchscreen and have the capability to track customer interactions including the number of touches, product views, and duration of sessions. This offers valuable insight about a customer’s shopping pattern and the products they are interested in. Insights and analytics from this could later be used to help the retailer plan inventory much more effectively.
Thankfully, you don’t need to rely on a multi-million dollar technology overhaul to be a destination retailer. A simple solution such as iQmetrix Endless Aisle can enhance your opportunity to convert every walk-in shopper to a loyal customer.