COMMENTARY

Surviving the retail revolution: 2018 will be a wild ride

Surviving the retail revolution: 2018 will be a wild ride

Photo: iStock.com

By Jaime Bettencourt, SVP, business development and account management, Mood Media

 

There is much talk of dwindling department store locations and an ever-booming ecommerce field of competition facing retailers, but the sky is not falling. Actually, according toThe National Retail Federation, for each company closing a store, 2.7 are opening shops. It's simply become critical that retailers rethink the retail experience.

 

Unquestionably, Amazon-crazed customers will continue to use subscribe & save to replenish necessities every month. But brick-and-mortar clearly still holds a very real place in the hearts and minds of shoppers. Consumer expectations have merely shifted to encompass more curated and personalized in-store experiences. With the quick changing environment of retail, we're in for a wild ride in 2018.

 
Malls will get a facelift

 

Yes, there's been a sharp decline in conventional malls in recent years. But rather than a total big box apocalypse, we're going to see new shopping centers replace outdated mall concepts. There's a fresh crop of multi-use developments taking shape, as shopping is becoming more focused on being experiential and tied in with leisure and entertainment. The park-like Domain in Austin, TX and newly-constructed Hudson Yards in Manhattan converge at the intersection of commerce and culture. Both boast high-density offices, retail and residential areas with salons and commercial offices, Yelp-worthy eateries, movie theaters, apartments and grocery stores. Residents have everything at their fingertips. We've learned that retail has never been more interactive than when consumers are living in the same place that they eat, work, play and shop.

 

Stores will become destinations for memorable moments

 

The traditional mall concept is being overhauled. But how are we driving consumers across the threshold? As online shopping grows, brick and mortar locations will need to put more manpower behind creating memorable in-store experiences that get customers off the sofa and into stores. Thinking beyond online transactions that are limited by a static 12” monitor, brands are beginning to reimagine in-store real estate by hosting Instagrammable experiences. Take PetSmart's yearly retail execution. Everyone from ferrets to pot-bellied pigs and (non-venomous) snakes are invited to take free photos on Santa's lap during the holidays. The retail chain has successfully created an experience that couldn't be replicated online. Moving forward, brands will need to start creating one-of-a-kind experiences year-round that make customers love to visit their stores.

 

Retailers will increasingly integrate digital experiences in-store

While there's power in creating memorable in-store moments that can't be replicated online, there are also cues we can take from the ease of online shopping. Moving forward, retailers will increasingly start to borrow from the digital world, integrating traditional online experiences in brick-and-mortar stores. For example, retailers like Macy's and Kohl's are offering "Click and Collect" options, providing shoppers the option of ordering online and picking up purchases in-store. Taking digital a step further, innovative retailers like Lowe's has an app which makes it easier for customers to navigate their store. Shoppers using their app in-store are able to locate exact aisles and bins of desired products — a fantastic way to respect your consumers' time.

 

Stores will start deploying mobile, beacon technology

In addition to borrowing the best online shopping advancements and implementing them in-store, retailers will increasingly leverage mobile and beacon technology to connect with smartphone users in advanced new ways. We'll see stores connect to iPhones, leveraging mobile devices as digital, in-store maps to help customers locate items on their shopping lists. Retail giant Target has begun incorporating the technology into their mobile app and is poised to have the tool rolled out in half of their stores in time to take advantage of the holiday rush.

 

We will see a cohesive rollout across physical and digital
 

How do we merge physical and digital? Very carefully. The truth is, consumers will never shop solely online or exclusively in-stores. To reach today's omnichannel consumer, brands will need to make a greater effort than ever before to create a consistent point of view and cohesive experience across physical and digital touch-points. When it comes to the in-store experience, lighting, color, scent, texture, sound and taste will all become an integral part of the competitive differentiator. These subtle nuances should be mirrored when consumers receive an online order at their doorstep. When implemented successfully consumers will recognize the brand before opening the package. Tiffany & Co. has nailed it with their little blue box.

 

As the holidays hit full stride and then wind down so quickly, brands need to keep the their consumers rising expectations as their main focus throughout the new year.  Highly curated, acutely personalized experiences are key, from creating memorable in-store moments, to borrowing traditional digital experiences like click and collect and implementing mobile and beacon technology. We'll see the brands that work to create a seamless experience across physical and digital touch-points becoming the front runners.


Topics: Customer Experience, Marketing, Omnichannel / Multichannel, Retail - General, Technology

Companies: Mood Media


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