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, such as Amazon, retail sales are down and terms like “retail apocalypse” are being thrown about. But is the future of brick and mortar retail 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 nostalgia and experiences in your memory that are helping 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…
The unique shopping experience
While there is certainly something to be said for the comfort and convenience of shopping from your couch in your favorite pajamas (we’re not here to judge), many consumers in the United States still enjoy the tactile experience of shopping itself. Don’t believe us? Take a look at any parking lot of your local mall on a weekend afternoon. Whether it’s people watching, being able to browse with no commitment, or interacting with your favorite store clerks, there is just something to be said about strolling through a store or your favorite shopping mall.
And, if that’s not enough, brick and mortar stores offer you the indescribable satisfaction of immediate gratification. When you’re out shopping with friends, 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). Simply put, you just don’t get the same kind of satisfaction from shopping online. Today’s consumers are seeking an overall shopping experience and smart retailers are finding ways to deliver, with good music, great employees, and maybe even in-store experiences or entertainment.
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 (we’re looking at you, Target)… again, 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.
Fast and easy in store pickup
Another growing trend in retail is in store pickup — sort of a hybrid of online shopping 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.”