For too long the retail market has been like a school disco. Digital disruptors are owning the dancefloor and traditional bricks and mortar stores sitting awkwardly, waiting for it all to be over.
This high school drama shouldn’t be a reality in retail.
Competing with industry giants doesn’t have to be an online-only battle. In-store environments are still critical to building customer loyalty, creating memorable, and most importantly, personalised brand experiences. By striking the right balance between pioneering technology and faultless performance, bricks and mortar retailers can compete with the personalised customer service offered online.
Retailers have been at the forefront of tech innovation for more than ten years. From the ecommerce boom and mobile shopping to AI customer service and shoppable posts on Instagram, retailers haven’t been afraid to innovate. The greatest challenges now are how to pioneer new innovation and personalise experiences, while ensuring reliable performance of the technology underpinning customer services.
The bar is set high with new players like Amazon Fresh continually reinventing what it means to shop and, increasingly, shifting the focus online. Bricks and mortar stores have, mistakenly, been side-lined and not seen as an asset in the battle for customer loyalty. This is changing. As shoppers seek the convenience of online shopping, physical stores are tapping into the power of the “experience economy”.
Traditional players have an advantage thanks to their extensive networks of bricks and mortar stores. Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods is a crucial example of what’s possible when online and offline experiences are seamlessly connected. When it comes to the physical store, success is determined by the personalised experience created for the customer. Retailers now use innovative technology to engage with the customer, envelop them into the brand environment and nurture customer loyalty, from browsing to purchase. You rarely now pop into Topshop to grab a T-shirt and be done.