It’s hard to turn on the news or read an article without seeing a headline about how grim things are for the retail industry right now. Thanks to online shopping and eCommerce giants, retail sales are down and terms like “retail apocalypse” are being thrown about. But is the future of brick and mortar retail truly doomed? Are shopping malls really a thing of the past?
We don’t think so — at least not entirely. The retail industry is evolving to keep up with consumer demands and is changing the game in the process. Even though the retail space has changed dramatically in recent years, it’s the in-store experience that helps to keep brick and mortar stores relevant.
Despite the tremendous rise in online retail, there are still reasons that remain as to why a portion of the consumer base will always prefer in-store experiences. And even though it’s a competitive and saturated market, there are ways that traditional retail stores can keep these customers — and more — coming through their door.
Here are 3 ways we’ve found that retail is keeping brick and mortar relevant.
1. The Unique Shopping Experience
There is something to be said for the comfort and convenience of shopping from your couch in your favorite pajamas, however, for many consumers in the United States, the tactile experience of shopping is what they enjoy most. Brick and mortar stores offer consumers an indescribable satisfaction of immediate gratification. You don’t have to wait for those perfect jeans to be shipped to your door — you can wear them out that night (and you already know they’re going to fit). That kind of immediate satisfaction will never come from shopping online.
Brick and mortar shops also embrace the social aspect of shopping. When was the last time you invited a group of friends to come over and online shop?
Today’s consumers are seeking an overall shopping experience and smart retailers are finding innovative ways to deliver, with good music, great service, and in-store experiences like dining and entertainment.
“Everyone has experienced ordering something online that they received only to realize the size, fit, or style wasn’t what they were anticipating. Also, you can make a fun night out of a shopping trip and the smart retailers place themselves in areas with good dining options as well as nearby entertainment. Another layer of the shopping experience is drawing inspiration from the retailers. So much thought goes into the design and look of stores that can provide consumers ideas and insight on what looks and styles speak to them.”
2. More Choices and Selection
Today’s consumers also want choices, and they want to be able to feel, touch, and experience those choices in store before committing. Think about the last treasure you stumbled upon in a store while not even looking for it, online browsing just doesn’t provide the same thrills. To find a perfect pair of shoes or just the right grill, you would have to head to a store’s website, where you’d then have to filter, search, and scroll to find exactly what you’re looking for. You just don’t leisurely browse the same way you do in a store. Having a wide selection of unique retail options is appealing for many consumers, and smart retails are learning how to deliver what shoppers are looking for.
“My favorite shopping trips are when I come home with something I had no intention or thoughts of buying. Those items tend to be the ones I end up loving the most.”
3. Fast and Easy In-Store Pickup
Another growing trend in retail is in-store pick-up — a hybrid of online and in-store shopping. Some say the trend started with restaurants offering “curbside” pickup options. The service was popular, so retailers have jumped on board. You can order a product online, wait a little while, and then get an email saying your order is ready for pickup. Simply head into the store and pick up your items — and, at some stores, you don’t even have to get out of your car, and they’ll bring your order to you.
Of course, finding the right space for your brick and mortar store will play a tremendous role in its success. But as more and more retailers learn what their customers want, as well as how they can best deliver on those wants, we’re confident the “retail apocalypse” can turn into the “retail renaissance.”