A recent Wall Street Journal article provided incredible insight into the future of the retail store.
The invention of the car didn’t lead to the extinction of horse-drawn carriages – it just made them a rarer and more distinguished way of getting around, and primarily a tourist attraction. Now apply that same kind of idea to online shopping and the old-fashioned brick-and-mortar store: far from dying off, it could make them a less common but more impressive sight.
As proof, simply think of Apple. The company is no stranger to online sales – you can fully customize a computer and have it on your doorstep the next day (which doesn’t even mention that iTunes basically killed brick-and-mortar music and movie stores). But can you imagine Apple abandoning all physical Apple Stores? That’s not going to happen. But Apple also realized that even it needed a refresher to stay relevant, so it redesigned its 100 largest Apple Stores.
The retail store isn’t going away, but its survival requires that it evolve.
With Amazon’s recent purchase of Whole Foods it’s hard to imagine a retail concept that won’t be impacted. Imagine, as Amazon perfects the home delivery of fresh produce, what will it take to get someone into a brick-and-mortar grocery store?
The answer may lie in flagship stores.
Once, these behemoths of capitalism were near extinction thanks to suburban malls. Today, there is a revival due to the prevalence of online shopping and the need for these stores to make a statement. Fewer locations, but those that exist are there to make an impact.
A recent report from Bain & Company found that, although 70 percent of high-end purchases are influenced by online interactions, 75 percent of sales will still occur in a physical location – a trend that looks to continue until at least 2025.
However, for that to be true, there will need to be a reason for consumers to enter the store – and a heightened convenience factor when they do.
There is no separation between being online and offline anymore. This new era of retail needs to recognize that and seamlessly blend digital and physical, allowing a shopper to shift effortlessly between the two realms. Thanks to the Internet of Things, checkout lines and registers are becoming a thing of the past. Shoppers are able to use their phone to scan items and pay for them without missing a beat.
“The holy grail now for retailers is creating digital empathy. No one can really guess what the future will look like. But those who are using technology and data to create bespoke shopping experiences that recognize every person is different, and with different needs, are more likely to come out on top,” said one chief executive of an augmented-reality consultancy.
The most successful retailers will retain customer loyalty by providing an unprecedented retail experience both through convenience and extravagance.
Discover how the innovative solutions at The Trade Group can augment your brand through this retail revolution by giving us a call at 800-343-2005.