The concept of the physical retail store is certainly changing and evolving, in some cases, it may not even be a traditional “store” with four walls and a POS. (Hello, pop-up stores and fashion/apparel trucks!) But I think we can all agree that the store is (in the immortal words of pop singer Taylor Swift) never, ever, ever going to go away. Need some proof? Let’s first take a look at the stats from this year’s back to school shopping. According to a June 2015 poll by FatWallet.com, 91% of parents planned to shop for back-to-school items in-store this year, vs. 37% who cited retailer sites, 16% cash-back sites and 7% mobile shopping apps. What’s more, a July 2015 study by Deloitte asked U.S. parent Internet users about the back-to-school items they planned to purchase in-store vs. digitally - almost all the categories were largely labeled as in-store-only purchases. The Deloitte study also reported that approximately two-thirds of parents intended to make other fashion purchases such as accessories and clothes solely in stores. (The first day of school outfit is very important for so many kiddos!) Clearly, in-store shopping is a priority for shopper’s today.
To help with its continued popularity, in recent years, the brick and mortar store has undergone a facelift, of sorts, by incorporating digital components into the shopping experience. Hundreds of retailers have already made these transformations such as replacing traditional cash wraps with mobile POS for store associates, incorporating in-store kiosks for digital engagement, becoming a hub for in-store pick up from online transactions, mobile engagement by means of beacon technology, and of course (ahem, ahem) digital displays in the form of electronic shelf labels.
The store will always be evolving to meet the needs and demands of the shopper, which should be an exciting venture for retailers and not one they should shy away from. In our previous blog, we talked about the importance of retailers bringing the Internet into the store as a critical way to keep shoppers walking through their doors. A fairly new store concept known as the “showrooming model” basically brings the online experience to the physical store. Customers can try on or sample products, make assisted purchases via the online store – all while in the store! After a purchase has been made, the retailer will then ship the product to the customer at their home.
This shopping concept, a beautiful melding of digital and in-store experiences, has been a huge hit with customers. I encourage you to check out the success that men’s apparel retailer’s Bonobos and Indochino have had with the showrooming model approach. By seamlessly integrating the digital and physical worlds in the store, customers can immediately have the best of both worlds, and retailers can be sure they are providing their customers with fun and delightful shopping experiences, further cementing the physical store’s place in retail. Viva la retail store, indeed!