BCBG recently announced the closure of its Canadian retail stores and, already, the closures are being attributed to online shopping making brick-and-mortar establishments obsolete.
To me, this over-simplifies a delicate, intricate and ever-changing retail landscape. How can we say the shift to online is what’s forcing retailers to close their brick-and-mortar stores when massively successful online retailers, like Amazon, are moving into the physical retail space?
I tend to over-philosophize breakfast cereal, but it doesn’t take much to see online sales are only a portion of the bigger picture.
So why are formerly successful brands closing their physical stores?
They got too comfortable
Companies raking in the cash before smartphones became widespread may have missed the warning signals of change. Even if they heard the rumblings, they may have taken a seat to “wait it out.” After all, it seems like only yesterday you’d hear the echo of, “I’ll always want to see and touch items before buying them.”
They made the wrong move (kind of)
The shift from in-store shopping led many companies to create an online platform to supplement their brick-and-mortar sales. That is, they created a way of shopping directly from their website. This was a major step for retailers, but only part of the overall journey.
They missed the big picture
People reach for their phone on average 150 times per day and, with every glance, there is an opportunity to engage in commerce. Social and gaming platforms, online browsing, and mobile applications are all forms of virtual connection that can lead to a purchase. And there’s no sign of slowing down. Mainstream, virtual-reality shopping is already imaginable.
Customers are shopping everywhere
Successful retailers know that people no longer make a conscious decision to “go shopping.” Carefully placed advertising has emerged so perniciously in our daily lives, most of us are unaware of its presence and power over our purchasing decisions.
An innocent scroll through Instagram can have the simple effect of encouraging a coffee purchase or inspiring a wardrobe overhaul. It can also have profound implications, like instilling brand loyalty in a customer who appreciates ethical sourcing practices, changing fundamental opinions on climate change, or encouraging the embrace of a new, healthy lifestyle. Retailers who know their customers know how, and when, to put themselves out there.
Today’s shoppers are infinitely connected, and they expect you to be right there with them.
Are you ready?
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