In case you haven’t heard, physical retail stores are dying. In 2018 alone, there have already been multiple large retail chains that have filed for bankruptcy including Claire’s (Jewelry), Bon-Ton (Department Store), B&B Bachrach (Men’s Apparel) and everyone’s favorite toy store, Toys R Us. If your local Toy’s R Us is anything like mine, the parking lot largely sits empty for 335 days a year and then every night in December the parking lot is packed with Christmas shoppers clamoring to stock up on the latest and greatest toys. Not surprisingly, this is not sustainable and results in closure and bankruptcy of these stores. Of course, seasonal traffic spikes being the only source of sales are not the only reason these stores aren’t thriving. Other reasons include the digitization of products (books, movies, video games), high cost per square foot, and real estate fees to name a few.
But what is the real cause of the fall of these retail giants? There is no doubt that online sales are growing at a much faster rate compared to sales growth in physical stores, but physical stores sales are still growing. The reality is that physical retail is still very much a huge part of the customer journey; the journey has just adapted to include both the online and physical component. I would argue that it is not physical retail that is dying but rather the death of an antiquated shopping experience that failed to keep up with ever-evolving retail trends.
In a recent interview done by Retail Touchpoints with Steve Dennis, it was argued that “what’s mostly going on is the death of boring retail.” Steve goes on to say that “…there is no distinction between channels. For most retailers, digital drives physical and vice versa, so you really have to do an in-depth analysis of the various customer journeys and understand where there are friction points are and eliminate them.” As a consumer, I totally agree; a good experience online endears me to the brand and if there is alignment with that experience when I go in-store, my loyalty — and inevitably my spending — increases with that brand in both channels.
So, what can a retailer do to combat being deemed “boring”? Consider for a moment the types of stores that are closing: commonly, it’s big boxes stores. Toys R Us, that although are filled with toys, no one is feeling a “warm” ambiance with their dim yet somehow insanely bright fluorescent lights. A store like Claire’s that is so jam-packed with cheap jewelry and accessories you can barely move around (paired with a screaming toddler who just recently had holes driven in their ears) doesn’t invoke a feeling of comfort. Sounds fun right? Sure, this was way we shopped for years but times change, and the power now truly sits with the customer.
Now, imagine a store that is strategically designed to be bright and inviting and it aligns with their provided online experience. How your store and product displays are put together matters and it doesn’t have to break the bank. Update your layout to create great customer experiences while staying on time, on brand, and on budget during these changes. The technology exists to allow you to design your stores to meet your unique needs and to create a destination that is more an experience than a chore for the consumer. Beyond simply designing your stores, these tools allow you to ensure that you are adhering to branding standards, merchandising better with the ability to plan ahead and communicate seasonal merchandising plans with all relevant members of your organization, and most importantly, keep ROI top of mind with the latest in-store products and services from a variety of vendors to raise your stores’ bottom line with their historical ROI data.
The fact is, physical retail isn’t dying. It’s constantly evolving with the expectation of the consumer and as retailers, it’s important to change with or even ahead of the curve in order to survive. We’re here to help! Download our survival guide for wireless retailers, giving you tips and tricks on how to stay on top.
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