Brick and Mortar Retailers Are On The Come Back in 2020.
But Will They Be Ready For Some Sweeping Changes?
As we embark on a new decade, many in the retail world find themselves still reeling from a 2019 that saw nearly 10,000 store closings, according to a recent story by CNN Business Perspectives.
Suffice it to say, the last decade was a tough one for brick and mortar brands and retailers. Rattled by a surge in online shopping fueled by a new generation of consumers who live for instant gratification and appreciate the hassle-free convenience of picking up that must-have item while still wearing their pajamas, in-store shopping certainly took one on the chin.
However, there is still good reason for brick and mortar retails to feel optimistic as we head into 2020. It seems the death of the retail store has been greatly exaggerated. Rather than careening toward extinction, brick and mortar retail is in the midst of a dramatic transformation – one that brings exciting new revenue opportunities for brands and retails able to provide customers a meaningful in-store shopping experience by harnessing the power of digital technology and applying it to their physical retail environments.
Brick and Mortar Trends For 2020
According to Chain Store Age, retailers in 2020 should be prepared to address a number of clear trends in order to be successful. Many of these trends are arguably best addressed with solutions that integrate advanced retail management technologies. They include:
Showrooming is when customers visit a physical store to check out a product only to buy it later online. To close sales on-site, brick and mortar retailers must find new ways to engage shoppers during the visit. This will require better-trained salespeople, assisted selling tools, service-based store layouts that maximize merchandising, a better understanding of demographics and in-store journey attributes, and other factors.
This is an extension of dealing with “showrooming”. Today’s consumer does not appreciate hard-sell, one-size-fits-all tactics. Retailers must cater to the consumer and curate products and services based on buyer preferences gleaned from past purchases, meaningful customer engagements, and other consumer insight tools.
Today’s brick and mortar brand and retailers must evolve to deliver a more personal and seamless shopping experience. To this end, as pointed out by CNN Business Perspectives, more intimate “Main Street” retail corridors are already enjoying a renaissance with even big box leaders like Walmart and Target building smaller stores in urban locations. Retailers must make it a point to adjust store sizes, layouts, merchandising, and “entertainment” factors to deliver a brand experience that resonates with their customers and prompts action.
Growth in order fulfillment
One aspect of a multi-channel shopping experience that must be considered is the customer’s ability to order online and then pick up merchandise in store – also called BOPIS (buy-online-pickup-in-store). This requires brick and mortar brands and retailers to re-think policies on staffing, compensation, task management, inventory planning, sales reporting, and many other areas. How do you support online ordering without cannibalizing foot traffic sales? Where this delicate balance lies is something brick and mortar operations are going to have to wrestle with in the new decade and beyond.
A Successful Digital Strategy for 2020
You’ve no doubt heard the term “Retail 4.0” being bantered about as the next big thing – and, in fact, it is precisely that. Essentially, Retail 4.0 refers to the digitization of the physical shopping experience – the integration of Artificial Intelligence, advanced data capture technology, and other innovations to improve performance across the lifecycle of brick and mortar operations – in-stores, with employees, and across brands and 3PLs.
These new digital technologies make up the secret sauce brick and mortar sellers have been longing to find. Their emergence is helping to swing the pendulum back towards shopping in stores, experiencing personalized product offerings, and appreciating the value of a salesperson who is trained to make your shopping journey easier and more rewarding.
This is particularly true among customers shopping for things like consumer electronics, home appliances, mobile devices, home automation, cable and internet services, and other high-value products that come at a much higher price point and usually require a longer personal investment than typical fast-moving goods.
What’s Driving The Resurgence?
What’s fueling the physical shopping renaissance is the ability to use emerging digital technologies to gain critical data insights that can positively impact every aspect of the sale. Basically, it’s taking the tools and best practices used for so many years to propel e-commerce and applying them to brick and mortar stores.
Of course, there’s a caveat. The implementation of a digital solution is a complicated process and one that few brands or retailers are equipped to handle on their own. Thus, they’re left with a dilemma. Do it ineffectively and that sizeable ROI you projected will most likely fall well short. Don’t do it at all and you’re setting your retail operations back years, if not decades, at a time when sticking with the status quo is surely the kiss of death.
Fortunately, there is one leading technology expert, Mobile Insight® that provides a highly extensible platform designed to help high-value brands and retailers tackle the challenges of Retail 4.0 – now and in the future.
The Sustainable Advantage of Digital Insights
The real power of a digital solution designed by Mobile Insight® is the ability to examine and understand retail operations with a level of visibility never before attainable. Mobile Insight® makes it happen by intelligently capturing data across stores, employees, and partners and leveraging insights to positively impact sales and operations.
Key 1: Smart Electronic Forms
These customized GPS-enabled digital forms with real-time photo capabilities are compatible with most smartphones and tablets, enabling field teams to capture store conditions, merchandising, pricing, promotional materials, inventory, and other factors impacting sales with touchscreen ease and accuracy. Forms data gets distilled down to easy-to-digest reports that give brands and retailers the ability to view their environments exactly as customers experience them – making it easy to spot issues and resolve them fast. Think of it as a window into the customer journey that reveals what’s working and what’s not, so actions can be taken quickly.
Key 2: Enhanced Data
Along with electronic forms data, Mobile Insight® integrates data pulled from other sources. These include point of sale, geo-specific weather and traffic, footfall and mobile traffic, employee and 3PL activity and scheduling, as well as technologies capturing in-store conditions and the customer journey such as in-store sensors, autonomous robots, and intelligent video. Insights gleaned from this additional data helps paint a clearer picture of customer behavior, shopping trends, conversion rates, and other conditions impacting sales performance.
Key 3: Real-Time Visibility
When your entire day is spent reacting to old news, it can be very frustrating for everyone. With real-time insights at the store, market, region, and national level across internal teams and 3PLS, issues are identified and resolved before they become major crises. Users and teams also have visibility into their own performance and status against goals – helping them focus on priority tasks that actually move the needle.
Key 4: Proven Best Practices
Seasoned experts and best practices underlie customer success with Mobile Insight®. The company’s leadership has spent decades in retail roles – running field and merchandising operations, working the sales floor, and driving revenue, merchandising and other programs from corner offices. They understand that success isn’t about the volume of data. Rather, it’s about the quality and relevance of the data gathered and the insights they reveal in relation to specific sales and operational goals. Without the right people and real-world expertise behind it, technology is a lot like a rudderless ship. It looks impressive but it doesn’t really get you anywhere.
The Store Is Here To Stay. But The Story Is Changing.
The days when mega malls and sprawling anchor stores dominated the retail scene are history. Today’s customers choose value over vastness. They want meaningful experiences. They want to see, touch and play with the merchandise. They wanted to be served by people who understand the products and can explain them like professionals. They want a personal and engaging shopping journey.
Data insights give high-value brands and retailers an instant and accurate look at the many factors impacting customer behavior and sales performance. Leveraging this insight and using it to make more informed, confident, and revenue-generating decisions is what will separate the winners from the losers over the next decade. Make no mistake about it, real time data is how brick and mortar retail will find its way in the age of Retail 4.0.
If you’d like to learn more about the latest digital data capture and retail management technologies, and the bottom-line benefits they can bring to your high-value brand or retail operations, visit mobileinsight.com.
Mobile Insight® is the only retail and merchandise 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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