In Exclusives, Insight, Retail

Every conversation at every conference where beauty & fashion experts gather seems to focus on the Armageddon of retail. Moreover, how could we think any differently when new retailers are continually announcing closures and filing for bankruptcy? Is the state of brick-and-mortar anything less than apocalyptic?

Research states that over 80% of shoes and clothing are still sold through traditional brick-and-mortar. A June 2018 study of 1,500 people by international management consulting firm Oliver Wyman exposed that the swing to e-commerce is not as powerful as everyone is assuming.

The store absolutely still matters, but today nobody goes to a retail destination for the product—they are going for the experience. They want to be entertained and to have a deeper connection to the brand or brand’s story. Retailers that deliver on that experience are winning.

People shop to relate to the world around them. Take the retail destinations where an Insta-moment has become a focal point. Retailers are tapping social media trends and creating socially shareable retail designs to attract younger consumers, but retailers often forget about their older counterparts. Yet for some reason these same retailers have started believing that if they can just translate likes to dollars, then everything else will fall into place, which is a big trap. Creating an Insta-friendly environment is great for traffic but doesn’t guarantee conversion at the cash register.

Another consideration is “Hyper Choice,” where consumers are barraged with too many product choices as retailers attempt to appeal to every consumer need. We realize the desire and importance of trying out a product before making a purchase, which by today’s standards makes the in-store consultation that much more critical. Retailers need to create a shopping scenario where the consumer feels special—someone spent time making them feel relevant. One of the best examples of a modern-day store doing this is ALDI; they make shopping for groceries as fun as putting a Lego set together. In a world filled with anxiety, distractions, and Amazon, they offer limited choices with the philosophy that no one requires 500 different types of Parmesan cheese. In the current retail landscape, creating distractions and providing too many options deters the shopper from making a decision. Instead of creating a ton of noise by delivering more options, allowing shoppers to focus actually helps to create more choice. Let’s think about it in the case of cheese—is three a crowd or shall there be three thousand?

In summary, physical stores still matter, but retailers need to:

  • Create experiences, not just sell stuff
  • Creating Insta-moment design is great, but likes don’t translate to dollars unless you also focus on service
  • Have a point of view on your merchandise assortment—sometimes more is just more

Photo: Anna Utochkina via Unsplash 

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