The Future Of Retail No Longer Looks Like The Future Predicted Just A Few Years Ago.
Not too long ago there were two clear-cut shopping choices. One, go for max ease and convenience by ordering that must-have item online. Two, head to a store and enjoy a little more interaction and confidence when making your purchase.
Fundamentally, the choice still exists. However, it’s not quite as well defined as it once was because these days brick and mortar retailers are transforming the physical shopping experience by incorporating new digital magic – tools and technology that are revolutionizing the customer journey and redefining the way retailers run their businesses, from inventory to merchandising to pricing. Working in unison, the online and physical retail worlds, are building a multi-channel experience that increases sales, customer engagement, product value, and long term loyalty.
The Numbers Don’t Lie
As much as retailers deserve credit for adapting to the digital era, the reality is they’re genuinely reacting to the undeniable truth that brick and mortar sales are still the driving force of retail.
A recent piece featured on insightsassociation.com points out that while the percentage of online retail sales growth is impressive at 16% compared to a steady growth of 3.4% among physical retailers (the very trend that was once thought to mean doomsday for brick and mortar brands and retailers), the total revenue generated by e-commerce sales is $62.5 billion compared to $152.7 billion for in-store retail. Indeed, brick and mortar retail is still the big dog on the block when it comes to generating revenue.
The article goes on to point out that certain sectors are immune to e-commerce inroads, ensuring both in-store vitality as well as the need to support, grow and maintain a strong physical presence.
Eduardo Santaella, Chief Operating Officer of Mobile Insight®, a Miami-based firm that provides advanced data capture and digital technology to brick and mortar brands and retailers, shed some light on this subject.
“In the retail stores, high-value purchases such as cell phones, home appliances, home security and automation services, and many luxury brands require a more hands-on sales approach. These customers are spending a good deal of money and committing to a long-term purchase. Unlike fast-moving goods on grocery shelves, these are very personal choices and there’s no doubt that having a powerful, positive and personal shopping journey is key to success. That’s only going to happen in a physical store.”
Here’s another interesting feather in brick and mortar’s cap. According to a recent brief featured on retaildive.com, two-thirds of millennials make it a point to visit stores every week. That’s a lot more than GenXers and even Baby Boomers. It turns out this point-and-click generation actually enjoys shopping as a pastime to share with family and friends. But there is one catch – millennials expect retailers to adapt to their needs and not the other way around. They want in-store experiences to be fast, easy, personal and engaging. Fall short and they will not be back.
Are you like so many who thought millennials were more content shopping online than in stores? Click here to learn more about the new wave of brick and mortar retail.
The Future of Brick and Mortar Shines Bright (But Only If Retailers Do It Right)
Brent Biddulph, reporting for Chain Store Age, is quick to point out that in-store technology is becoming an increasingly big topic of discussion of industry events. It is seen as a critical part of brick and mortar retailers’ business improvement and strategic differentiation strategies. He pointed out three key areas, where digital and cloud-based technologies are transforming in-store revenue channels.
Digital breakthroughs like autonomous robots (currently in play at big-box icon, Walmart) and real-time data are giving retailers instant insights into inventory, merchandising, store appearance and product movement. Retailers who incorporate these digital tools enjoy a level of visibility and transparency throughout their operations that can only lead to smarter, faster and more profitable operations decisions.
Improved Customer Experience
New technologies allow retailers to improve their understanding of the customer journey – shopping times, dwell times, purchase paths, product preferences and more. The more retailers know about their customers, the easier it is to deliver the personalized and engaging experiences they desire.
Retailers are using technology to streamline in-store tasks, allowing associates to focus on customer engagement. They’re also using mobile technology and other devices to provide sales associates with ongoing training and a better understanding of products and services. Customers today want answers to their questions and a well-informed expert on the floor is a huge advantage in closing the sale.
Ian Hutchinson, who leads Business Development for mobile communications powerhouse, Samsung, is even more adamant. He recently wrote that digital transformation is more than a matter of urgency for retailers. Hutchinson calls it an emergency.
As proof, he points out how technology is impacting every aspect of business in so many industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, logistics, even finance. From the back office to the supply chain to the customer experience, the most successful companies in the world are embracing end-to-end digital solutions.
Why should retail be any different? Hutchinson warns retailers that the time to take action is right now and that doing nothing is not an option, pointing out that as technology continues to infuse every aspect of brick and mortar retail, digital maturity across an organization is a prerequisite for progress.
You Need To Take Action Now. But You’re Still Wondering How.
You’re not alone. Most brands and retailers are finding life in the Retail 4.0 world a pretty sizable challenge. New technologies are being introduced at a breakneck pace even as customers demand more and more out of their shopping experiences. Figuring out which digital tools work best for your business model, budget and customer expectations is a daunting task.
“It’s somewhat of a Catch-22,” added Eduardo Santaella of Mobile Insight®, “Brands and retailers fully realize they are in crunch time when it comes to implementing advanced retail management solutions, at the same time they find themselves in unfamiliar waters that could become treacherous if the wrong move is made. So, it is important for them to work with technology providers who truly understand their domain and their challenges.”
It’s no coincidence that the advantages proven leaders like Mobile Insight® offer retailers center around the ability to capture and analyze data in ways that impact the very areas Brent Biddulph spoke about – operational excellence, customer experience and building a more empowered salesforce.
Are you a brand or retailer who sees the future of brick and mortar shopping? Are you transforming your operations right now? Or, perhaps, you’re ready for some expert help?
There’s no question that brick and mortar retail is here to stay. However, as a new generation sweeps in with grander demands and less patience for antiquated methods of selling, only
those businesses willing and able to evolve will succeed. For these leaders, the future of brick and mortar retail looks remarkably bright.
To learn more about how advanced retail management technology is impacting brick and mortar sales, visit mobileinsight.com.
Mobile Insight® is the only retail management solution designed to meet the brick and mortar sales challenges of high-value brands and retailers. Unlike hardware and software providers that focus on fast-moving goods, the Mobile Insight® platform delivers assisted sales solutions for more complex, interactive and customer-centric environments. Combining data from in-store systems, 3PLs, employee and partner activity, Mobile Insight® enables informed, smarter decisions that drive sales and operations excellence. For more information, visit www.mobileinsight.com.
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