Over the past few years, customers’ demands have drastically changed, forcing the retail industry to change with them. Retailers have figured out that the way to sell more is to connect with the customer on their terms, which exists in the digital landscape. How can retailers do this while staying true to their business model?
New technology means new shopping models
In a perfect world, a shopper would be able to go into a retail store, pick out what they want, and purchase it on the spot. Now, in the digital age, more and more retailers are creating “showrooms” to display samples of their items for consumers to purchase online. A customer can walk into a store, try on clothing or shoes, find their size, and order directly at the store. These changes in technology are shifting the way people shop, moving from the brick and mortar business model into a digital store.
Although this is not a new business model, it’s definitely new for retailers like clothing stores. In the past it has been used primarily to sell furniture and larger items that do not easily fit into shopping bags or cars. This model is quickly catching on, not only because it is more cost-effective for the retailer, but also because it gives the store staff more time to connect with the customer rather than spending their time restocking shelves.
The customer experience is key
At the end of the day, everything is about the customer experience, right? As a consumer myself, I am not sure how I feel about this model. When I go to a store, I like to purchase things on the spot, not wait a week before they ship—I expect that only from online retailers like Amazon (though with Prime, I can get my orders the next day).
To keep up with customer needs, retailers need both a storefront and an online presence that makes the customer experience seamless, no matter which venue they use. Without this, their business simply won’t thrive.
The customer journey incorporates physical and digital
With online business models taking hold, companies will need to work even harder to stay relevant. When a consumer walks into a retail showroom and tries on items but leaves without making a purchase, retailers must stay one step ahead and send personalized reminders asking them to visit the showroom again, or to continue their shopping journey online.
Will this new online trend cause brick and mortar store to become obsolete? In my opinion, the retailer will need to find the perfect balance between brick and mortar and online. As a consumer, I’m looking forward to seeing how the retail community evolves. Now that everything is online, will this be the death of brick and mortar stores, or will stores simply change the way they sell?
For more on this topic, see The Digital Consumer Age Of Retail: Moving Beyond Omnichannel.