The future of brick and mortar retail stores are far from dead. But they will, without a doubt, transform in the coming years. To remain relevant, retailers need to adapt to the technological changes and build valuable relationships with their customers.
From the way we socialize to the way we read our news, we have surely moved just about everything online. And shopping is no exception. There's a general demand for better customer experience.
The growth of online shopping has exploded. And it isn't going to slow down anytime soon. As a result, the majority of retailers today are running webshops alongside their brick-and-mortar stores.
But where does this leave the physical store?
We believe that physical stores will never be obsolete. But they will need to reinvent themselves in order to preserve their raison d'étre. They need to be innovative and provide customers with experiences.
Here we share our perspectives on what's essential for the store of the future.
The store of the future is data driven
As a retailer, you can no longer afford to guess what your customers desire.
Luckily, thanks to technology and the huge volume of data your customers pump out onto the web every single day, you're able to get to know them better than ever before: where they're from, what pages they browse, their product preferences, and how they connect and interact with your brand.
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Let's say you use a customer relationship management (CRM) system or similar client data analysis software to aggregate customer data from multiple channels. By tracking the online behavior of your customers, you will learn exactly how to provide them with the best guidance and customized sales support when they visit your store. After all, no matter how much technology takes over our lives, we will always crave human contact.
Innovative digital brick and mortar stores are already using these valuable customer insights, and you can do the same to put yourself in a great position to tailor your products to fit your customers' preferences.
Winning brick and mortar stores are giving customers experiences
Let's face it, entertainment in all its many shapes and sizes is constantly competing for our time, and our tolerance for boredom is lower than ever.
In the future, the physical store's primary focus will be on customer experience.
If you provide your customers with all the product details and information they need on your website, they will most likely visit your physical store to explore and interact with your product. In other words, they are there to be entertained.
To help your customers connect with your products and brand in your physical store, experiences could include value-adding services like virtual reality, exhibition stand solutions or virtual showrooms.
Therefore, think of your store as an experience center – a place where your customers can interact with your products, and where you have a chance to build valuable relationships with them.
Provide a complete sensory experience
Even though e-commerce is rapidly changing our spending habits, the physical store has a powerful advantage that no online store can compete with: the power to engage shoppers by activating all five senses.
Create a multi-sensory in-store experience by allowing your customers not only to look at your products, but to touch, smell, taste and hear them in action too – within reason of course.
In the end, it's all about understanding your audience and meeting their expectations. Do they prefer a high-speed, lively environment with urban tunes and engaging activities, or would they be more comfortable in a low-key environment with calm sounds and soothing scents?
By stimulating your customers through all their senses, you activate their emotions and create a deeper connection to your brand, a connection that your e-commerce initiatives simply can't match.
No matter how convenient online shopping has become, brick-and-mortar retail has obvious advantages. By using data to aggregate customer insights and create a multi-sensory atmosphere with value-adding experiences, you'll remain relevant, add value, and drive revenue – both online and offline.
Is there a future for brick and mortar retail? (Insights Association)
The advantage brick and mortar will always have over online retail (Forbes)