“With so many brands and products out there, you need to be able to cut through the noise and distinguish yourself as a sought-after brand. If you are not physically there, you are often forgotten – even if you have an online presence.” – Chris Noble, Global Director for StoreForce.
The events of 2020 may have sparked some ideas that retail was dead, or that brick and mortar stores were going to be phased out, but that is certainly not the case. The fact is, the brick-and-mortar store has always been, and remains an integral part of the retail operation. Brands need a presence in the marketplace to be successful. Customers want a place where they can experience products and have a great brand experience. The brick-and-mortar store will always be the brand’s single most important touchpoint.
The role of the store has evolved into a Billboard, a Showroom, and a Mini Distribution Center, elevating the importance of the store with multifaceted responsibilities. These changes have resulted in new activities and responsibilities for the store. With the recent influx of sell and non-sell activities, stores will need to ensure they are prepared more than ever before.
The brick-and-mortar store used to be the only place you could go to buy products. Now there are a wide variety of channels available to purchase products. Stores have evolved into a billboard, providing even more brand presence in the marketplace. This is critical in retail, as you need to be top of mind for customers. With so many brands and products out there, you need to be able to cut through the noise and distinguish yourself as a sought-after brand. If you are not physically there, you are often forgotten – even if you have an online presence.
It has been proven that if you open a physical store in a geographic area, the e-commerce sales go up by 30-70% in that area. And, if you close a store in a geographic location, e-commerce sales in that area will also go down in that area. It’s about being present in the market to be top of mind for customers.
- The physical store continues to be about brand awareness
- Allows the retailer to showcase the brand before customers walk into the store
- Out of sight, out of mind: If the store is physically present in the market, it will resonate more with the customer and the brand will be top of mind
The brick-and-mortar store has also become a showroom. Not so long ago, retailers did not like the idea of customers coming into their stores to look at products, then go home and purchase them online, Today, retailers embrace this idea. They have realized that if customers remain within the brand, it does not matter which channel they purchase from. Customers want to go into the store to touch and feel the products and experience the brand. The store is the physical embodiment of the brand.
- Where the customer interacts with the associate and with the product
- Customers can touch, feel, and try
- This may or may not be where the transaction takes place, but these interactions influence the ultimate sale
A Mini Distribution Center
The brick-and-mortar store has also become a mini distribution centre. This change in the role of the store has spawned many new activities that need to be performed within the four walls of the store. Activities like appointment booking, picking, and packing are only a few of the new responsibilities that the brick-and-mortar store has taken on. Retailers have done a phenomenal job in adapting to the recent changes, and they have shown a lot of creativity and innovation in how to get their products into their customer’s hands. Examples of this include BOPIS, curbside pickup, ship from store, and same day delivery.
- Retailers can leverage the stores to efficiently deliver these services to customers
- Influx in digital activities like BOPIS, ship from store, curbside, etc.
- Even though the store has become a mini distribution center, these activities need to be done in a way that does not disrupt the in-store customer looking for a wonderful experience
At the end of the day, the brick-and-mortar store will never go away. Customers want the human experience and interaction with people. Technology is of course important, but even if you have the best technology, if you are not present in the market or don’t have brilliant store associates to work in your stores, chances are you will have incremental challenges. The retail operation has become a complex mix of online and in-person initiatives that all aim to satisfy the customer. Retailers are working hard to get this right in order to remain relevant in the market, and to evolve with the wants and needs of their ever-changing retail customers.
StoreForce can help you to achieve your retail goals and labor planning effectiveness. Interested in learning more? Contact us and engage with one of our retail experts as to how we can future proof your overall retail store management.
ABOUT CHRIS NOBLE
Chris knows that making data-driven decisions is key to improving employee engagement, generating sales, and increasing efficiency. In the last 20 years, Chris has worked exclusively with Specialty Retailers across Europe and the Middle East. Chris’ forte is technology and he understands that bringing it to the sales floor is critical for retailers to maintain their positions.
You can connect with Chris Noble via LinkedIn.
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