The media has been having a field day lately predicting the demise of retail stores. A recent Fox Business article declared “RIP Retail.” So why are we still talking about investing in brick-and-mortar as the future of retail? Because the store still plays an incredibly important role in many customers’ shopper journeys – whether it begins or ends online.
The retail industry is actually quite healthy, raking in $3.4 trillion U.S. in online and offline sales combined in 2016. - The Retailer's Dilemma, Forrester
At the end of the day consumers still want stores, especially in industries such as wireless. The entire world can’t be online! That need to see, touch, and feel still exists and customers still need sales associate assistance when it comes to high-tech products such as devices and various rate plans.
Smart retailers are adapting their brick-and-mortar footprint to leverage the conveniences of e-commerce and use technology to offer customers more ways to shop in-store.
With so many options, where do you even begin the transformation?
Embrace the phenomenon of omnichannel.
Rather than focusing on competing with e-commerce sales, embrace omnichannel. The point is not to replicate the online experience in-stores, but rather to create a unique digital experience that complements your online sales.
Value your customer’s time.
Stop making your customer work so hard to buy from you. If they research online, then end up in-store for the purchase, that’s great! If they leave your store and end up purchasing from you online, that’s great too. But the minute you make it hard for them to find what they want, they’ll be on to your competition.
Map your priorities.
Like most retailers, you’re likely at a fork in the road. There’s no one path for all and that’s what makes it so hard. Some retailers are choosing to scale back physical stores in order to focus on providing a better experience in their higher performing locations. Others are plowing full steam ahead with new locations and new omnichannel strategies. It’s important to map what’s best for your business strategy, but most importantly, just keep moving forward.
Build your foundation.
Customers are making it clear what they want: an omnichannel experience. They want to showroom and webroom. They want information, speed, choice, privacy, personalization, and control. Build your foundation to meeting their needs with a combination of physical, emotional, and rational considerations.
Make every brick count.
Design your stores to be gathering places offering unique experiences that allow your customers to fall in love with your brand all over again and keep them coming back. With a blend of in-store experience and in-store technology you can maximize sales and better set your business up for success.
At the end of the day, as shown by the media, retailers can’t afford not to change. Brick-and-mortar transformation will be a must to stay competitive and meet consumer expectations.
Want to learn more about merging your digital and physical retail? Check out our eBook, Footprinting Brick and Mortar for Omnichannel Retail: What Works, What Doesn’t, & Why.