Brick and mortar stores - dying out or not?

We have been contacted by several magazines recently asking us to give our expert opinion on the 'retail apocalypse', 'end of physical stores' and 'death of the high street'. Whatever you want to call it the retail industry is undoubtedly changing, however we wouldn't say it's dying — it's evolving.

In-store customer experience

Competition in the retail industry is fiercer than ever (predominantly due to the past decade's ecommerce boom) which is making physical stores focus on improving their in-store experience. In a market where everything is just a click away and often at a lower price, you need to give consumers compelling reasons to come down to your store and shop.

Although some traditional retail giants are struggling in todays climate, brands that are investing in an innovated in-store experience have managed to turn the threat into an opportunity. It's all about adding value and making it fun, creative and interactive for customers and give them something they can't get online.

These are a few examples of retail brands that have upped their in-store game:

      • Tiffany & Co has a perfume vending machine in their Covent Garden flagship store
      • Uniqlo offers free alterations within 24 hours
      • Burberry's flagship store offers beauty appointments, tailoring and has its own restaurant
      • Rebecca Minkoff has fitting rooms with “smart mirrors" that allow shoppers to search for other sizes or products
      • ...the list goes on!

Price transparency

Todays shopper is armed with a smartphone and have tremendous pricing transparency, as well as continuously rising expectations of convenience and choice. Some product groups are more affected by the online competition than others; jewellery and perfume are examples of goods that customers still prefer to buy in store.

Online and offline goes hand in hand

A brand's physical stores and their ecommerce website should not be treated as competitors. An omnichannel approach will ensure that a seamless and consistent customer experience exists across the business - one sales channel should support the other.
Sophia Webster is a brand that does exactly this. The designer herself recently stated:

I feel like online is our flagship, but that face-to-face time is so valuable…our physical stores should go hand in hand with e-commerce and not be seen as one versus the other.

Keep an eye out for our article about the luxury retail market - coming soon!

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