We read a new story every day, we see updated headlines every day, and if we're in the industry sometimes we even hear it first hand from friends, colleagues and family.
I'm talking about the supposed demise of the traditional retail brick and mortar retailers most of us grew up with.
Sure there are plenty of casualties, sure many of them clung onto the old way of doing things, you might even argue they did it to themselves.
While many consumers have taken to e-commerce like ducks to water, there’s something to be said for the opportunity to touch a product or try it before buying. Retail locations provide an important opportunity for brands to educate consumers about their products.
Today the consumer is spoilt for choice when it comes to shopping, today's tech savvy shopper might go online via their mobile phone, but they are also still going to visit 'physical' retailers, especially those that have innovated and created a great experience, after all retail is all about how it makes us feel isn't it?
If that isn't true then why are so many 'click' retailers looking to open up physical locations, this is happening from the mighty 'Amazon' to 'Missguided' and others.
A few years ago international mail order and eCommerce retailer NBrown plc dipped into the physical world of retail with a number of their online brands and have since retreated.
To be honest I'm not really surprised as this is a business that should have dominated and owned the online retail space in the UK, but having made the move online they simply continued to gently migrate the existing mail order customer online in order to reduce cost rather than innovate the business with all the power that e-Commerce, the internet, their database, home shopping infrastructure & logistics, and of course the power of what social media could muster, they could have done this because they were ahead of anyone else in the UK at the time.
Everyone else, including Shop Direct were playing catch up as they evolved their business from a confusing myriad of mail order brands using the agency model, and physical retail outlets into what has today driven a huge bus through NBrown plc's business, if you combine with this yet another company (based just around the corner from NBrown) BooHoo.com and Missguided' who arrived late to the party but really connected with an audience in a way that the likes of NBrown never understood as it chased new markets in Europe and the US, and new customers at the expense of its own market, and the huge opportunity to leverage a much younger customer base.
Every channel of retail today should be embracing social media, not to advertise and promote themselves, audiences are turning away from this in droves, but to help the consumer decide 'why' they should choose to shop with them, and via which channel.
Whether you’re opening up a pop-up store or establishing a permanent location, you need to deliver a memorable tangible experience. Getting a primarily digital audience to physically try your product multiplies the potential for sales. It simultaneously provides customers with the personal interactions they crave.
With so many digitally native brands opening up brick-and-mortar locations, it’s clear that retail isn’t yet pushing up daisies. It has, however, evolved. Traditional retailers that want to evolve with it should take a hint from the dominant digital players. Gone are the days when retail locations were just sites for making sales. Instead, they play an important role in marketing a brand.
“Playing in both the online and in-store categories allows brands, especially those with new products, to double down in ‘the three C’s’: convenience, culture, and curation, and take a deep dive into consumer experience.”