BrainTrust Query: Is Retail Quietly Trending Away From Bricks and Mortar?

Discussion
Apr 23, 2012

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from ScreenPlay InterActive’s blog.

Back in the late ’90s when e-commerce was coming to the fore, a fear pervaded among many retailers that they might be torpedoed by the new phenomenon of online shopping.

Over time, retailers relaxed and joined the fray in developing their own true web presences. They stood up to competition from mom and pops and Amazon and other big discounters, so it seemed that the panic was over and that they didn’t have to worry about closing stores due to internet competition.

Now, retail is at another inflection point. Amazon is head and shoulders above all other internet-only competitors, producing its own line of products and services, buying Kiva Systems, and reportedly on track to have nearly 70 warehouse locations in the near future. In addition, the early volleys of tablet wars have begun with an immediate hammer blow to traditional print publishing/advertising and a new era of rich media enabled "catalog shopping" on the horizon.

Add to that the ceaseless growth of smartphones and a youth culture that has an always-on wireless connectivity psyche embedded deep in its soul and, once again, bricks and mortar retail is under pressure. This time though, there’s more than perception behind the changing merchandising topography. This time, there’s less novelty and more early adoption and perceived demand from consumers that are now comfortable with technology as both a lifestyle and beneficial shopping tool.

There’s no immediate threat, but over time — possibly a fair amount of time — traditional retail shopping will be permanently affected. It may be largely innocuous, like a more intelligent store environment enabled by digital signage, electronic wallets, and retail or brand based apps. Or, it may be the first, real, wholesale change to shopping habits since the emergence of the department store or suburban mall. It’s quite possible that retail stores will more and more become, in effect, catalog showrooms, customer pick-up windows, and return desks — scenarios they cannot financially sustain.

Clearly there’s an experience to in-store shopping that can never be replicated by digital shopping. Retail shops are a destination, an escape, a place to touch and feel, a place to be seen by and interact with others, and they offer an immediacy that even young shoppers enjoy. But it’s quite possible that, in time, store footprints will decrease, thin staffs and self-service becomes rampant, and that a number of retailers that are very sound businesses today, will vanish.

Change doesn’t always come quickly or painlessly, but in our society, it comes.

Discussion Questions: Do you agree that retail is quietly trending away from bricks & mortar? How do you see mobile and technologically enabled shoppers affecting retailers in unexpected ways?

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43 Comments on "BrainTrust Query: Is Retail Quietly Trending Away From Bricks and Mortar?"

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Richard Dodd
Guest
Richard Dodd
5 years 2 months ago

The smart retailers are looking at how their customers want to shop and ensuring that they meet those needs cost effectively. In the UK, in many cases this has resulted in greater investment in online channels and a reduction in store estates, however, still ensuring they have enough stores to give good coverage within a reasonable traveling distance.

However, at the the same time, retailers need to look at investing more in the remaining stores to raise the levels of service they provide. The staff in the stores need to be well trained and equipped with the tools to enable them to offer greater levels of service to customers who come into the stores.

Pop-up stores will also become a more strategic part of a flexible retailers portfolio rather than a novelty, potentially providing a way of dealing with seasonal peaks when the fixed store estate has been downsized, and meeting the needs of customers in sparsely populated areas.

In short, there shouldn’t be a trend away from bricks and mortar, but a re-evaluation of the role they play and the customer needs they need to meet, and appropriate focusing of investment.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
5 years 2 months ago

Yes, the trending is away from bricks and mortar. People are grabbing at change. Right now, most of us don’t know exactly how technological shoppers will affect retailing in the future. But no trend is finite without alterations and change.

Prediction is hard. But we know that innovation is constant. Looking farther out, by 2100 technology and science will have allowed many of us to still be alive. The sobering news is that you will have many more people on the Earth to serve at retail as well as to care for. The better news is that technology should allow us to better serve what we call retailing today. We will see unbelievable things continuing to occur. And that process is already is progress. So if any of you have a clear crystal ball, please share what you see in it.

David Biernbaum
BrainTrust

Online shopping has not reached its peak and it will continue to spread out and grow, even beyond where it is today. However, the notion that brick and mortar shopping will trend away to the dark ages is unrealistic and foolish. Smart retailers completely understand that the two need to work dynamically integrated together and they are investing in the right technologies to make it easy for the consumer to shop one and the same.

Adrian Weidmann
BrainTrust
It is not a question of quietly trending away from bricks & mortar but rather it is imperative for retailers to completely reject their understanding of traditional retail. The question is about designing and implementing an innovative approach to retail in a world of the connected consumer. How do I as a retailer combine the reality of ‘being digital’ and the inherent shopper need to touch and feel as well be surprised and delighted about the shopping experience? The speed at which these changes are occurring are dictating that retailers MUST begin to develop a holistic and cross-channel strategy today! Simply having a website and a mobile application doesn’t cut it. How do these channels work together from a shopper and customer perspective? That is truly what matters. Your customer doesn’t care about who gets credit for a sale — they just expect their purchase to be smooth, efficient and rewarded on THEIR terms. All too often, retailers avoid the difficult decisions because there are too many political layers and agendas in the enterprise environment. That spot of light through the darkness is not the end of tunnel — it’s an oncoming train and retailers need to get innovative and… Read more »
Tony Orlando
BrainTrust

On many products today, online shopping will continue to grow, but food, and other daily need commodities will still be very viable at B & M locations. Buying a nice t-bone or fresh tomatoes is something consumers will do for themselves, but a new LED TV will be purchased more and more online, which does not bode well for the electronic stores in the future.

Shoe stores are also becoming dinosaurs, as Zappos and other online shoe outlets have made major inroads into the shoe business.

My load of mulch will still be delivered from my landscaping guy, and hopefully the main street merchants will reach out to their selling base with creative ways to connect with customers blending high tech with old-fashioned service.

Steve Montgomery
BrainTrust

Retailing is all about adapting to change. We went from mainstreet to the mall; from small local stores, to mega marts; and now from brick and mortar to internet. Main street and small retailers still exist, but not in the numbers that they once did. Brick and mortar will not go away but its place in retailing will continue to change. I don’t have a crystal ball that says what form it will take, but I do believe it will survive.

Bill Emerson
Guest
Bill Emerson
5 years 2 months ago

“Quietly”?

Retailing is continuing to evolve, as it has through the ages (only 40 years ago, there were more than 130 independent department stores in this country). The difference is that this evolution is happening at a geometric pace, described in Moore’s Law. There is simply no reason to expect that the assault on the old 4-wall model will slow down.

That said, the 4-wall model will always have a place for those who seek immediate gratification, those who enjoy the social and escapist aspects of shopping, and those who want a broader visual experience than the current technology allows.

The answer to surviving/doing well in 4-wall is pretty straightforward. Offer an experience and/or product that is not available through the technology. Says easy, does hard.

gordon arnold
Guest
Internet retail business is trending to capture between 35-50% of all domestic retail sales. The real growth will come from sales into foreign markets wishing to buy American goods in America. This is something the WEB will bring to the world in a big way as software scope and design improve with platform power and performance. These changes are happening as we speak. There is still and will be a necessity for the big-box stores long into the future. What the inventory will be, where the inventory is from, and how the big boxes are managed will also evolve into something unlike what we have today. Unlike the author, I am of the impression that the distribution industry and the transportation industry are under far more pressure to survive than anything we are seeing in retail. Fuel prices and slow sales from a weak world economy are crushing these industries and forcing Fortune 1,000 companies to bring these necessities in house. These same factors combined with less-than-capacity shipments will make shipping charges a pay-by-the-pounds-per-mile formula soon. This is the nightmare that Amazon and others are building into. As affluence and area demands geographically shift, the big investments in static location… Read more »
Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

The article suggests that “Retail shops are a destination, an escape, a place to touch and feel, a place to be seen by and interact with others, and they offer an immediacy that even young shoppers enjoy.”

That is exactly on target. And this is what the retailer should be thinking about in terms of looking at the future. Note, the comment did not emphasize buying products at the store.

Make the retail store a showroom that is “a destination, an escape, a place to touch and feel, a place to be seen by and interact with others, and [offers] an immediacy that even young shoppers enjoy.” And give the shopper the tools to close the purchase now, no matter if they walk out with the product or have it sent the next day to their home.

Focus on closing the sale while you have the shopper. Don’t let them go to the next store.

Dr. Emmanuel Probst
Guest
Dr. Emmanuel Probst
5 years 2 months ago

Brick and mortar stores that will survive and prosper are the ones that will offer an experience that is unique and valuable enough for shoppers. Shoppers will, however, shop online for everything that does not require or benefit from a real experience and human interaction.

Ed Dunn
Guest
5 years 2 months ago

Retail is going through a transformation and correction due to information technology and connected consumers. Traditional brick and mortar retailing models are definitely being phased out while pop-up shops, main street boutiques and m-commerce are the new emerging models.

The flash mob from the Target/Missoni campaign, as well as the flash mob regarding the limited release of Air Jordans last holiday season is proof positive that customers are very connected using social networks and will generate foot traffic to retailers if the marketing campaign is aligned to current mobile and social networking technology.

In my opinion, the biggest pain points are where commercial leasing agreements will have to be more liberal and flexible, states are going to have to tax e-commerce operations to level the playing field, and retailers are going to have to incorporate mobile offerings to prevent showrooming. If consumers are showrooming, that indicates consumers are currently using a mobile strategy better than what the retailer is offering.

W. Frank Dell II
BrainTrust

In the ’90s we had no clear direction as to what product categories consumers would buy online. The consumers were mostly early adopters and 90% would leave the web site during checkout. Today there are more consumers experienced with online purchasing, better web sites, and a recession causing consumers to search for lower prices. Additionally, the average consumer is aging and retired baby boomers have more time to research and search online.

Brick & mortar retailing is not dead. Product categories the consumer wants or needs now like a pain killer will always be purchased in a store. Retailers will compete on unique products and superior customer service. Target market will shift to include the technology challenged segment.

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust

The best projections show online retail volume remaining tiny compared with brick and mortar. So while there’s a bunch of hype on this issue today, it’s not happening in reality … except a lot of consultants are making superb money being paid to tell this to everyone and recommend shuffling the deck chairs as a result.

Paul R. Schottmiller
Guest
Paul R. Schottmiller
5 years 2 months ago

Quietly?!?!?

It is not a question of IF today’s version of physical retailing will be replaced by digital, but rather WHAT and WHEN.

Physical stores are not going away, but our definition and expectation of a “store” and its role in the shopping journey will be radically transformed over the next decade. Although the speed and degree of change will vary across segments, in general, this trend is about as quiet as a sonic boom.

James Tenser
BrainTrust

Media sage Marshall McLuhan famously observed that newer media displace (not replace) older media.

The same may be said of newer retail techniques — especially online, and now mobile. Digital retailing is an adjunct, an expansion, an added choice that has been layered on to traditional analog retailing. I don’t see it as alternative, but I do see it as transformative.

So I suppose I take issue with the question as posed here. It’s not that retailing is moving away from bricks and mortar; it’s that digital methods are displacing and altering the role of bricks and mortar.

With the exception of purely digital goods (content and software) retailing is about stuff and stuff (so far) is physical and must be made and moved through time and space.

Kevin Clark
Guest
Kevin Clark
5 years 2 months ago

Good comments here. It probably does depend on how you define “retail.” If retail means a twentieth century store, the change will be huge. If instead it is performing those functions we’re familiar with but using whatever tools best fit the job — it doesn’t seem like such a radical change.

It does seem obvious that technology will present a more and more compelling experience every year. The advantages of a physical store will continue to diminish for some time yet.

Andy Casey
Guest
Andy Casey
5 years 2 months ago

No question about the trend as online retail becomes a viable purchase channel for more and more consumers. But seems to me the real question for brick and mortar is, how are they going to change to stay relevant?

Ron Whittington
Guest
Ron Whittington
5 years 2 months ago

Yes, although there will always be a need for consumers to ‘touch and feel’ some items before they purchase — dresses, pants, shoes — any number of things, given the consumer’s personal preference.

It’s very similar to what’s happening to downtown areas with the advent of the internet. At one time, all major companies concentrated in central business districts. Now, with the ability to work online in virtual offices, we’re seeing a slow deterioration in downtown cores throughout the country. While there will always be a place for brick & mortar stores, just as there will always been a downtown core, their dominance is waning.

Liz Crawford
BrainTrust

The new world order will be morphed and shape-shifted, but still a definite reincarnation of traditional shopping.

Rather than having digital “replace” bricks and mortar stores, I believe we will have new seamless experiences that integrate the two in ways that we have yet to understand. The shopper will be king or queen, and will dictate the type of experience that he or she would like to have. The variety of shopping experiences will multiply profusely. These integrated experiences will be on webTV, with Google Glasses in environments, using scanners on smartphones, and any number of other blended, real-time, real-touch experiential buying opportunities.

It’ll get interesting. Much more interesting than either digital or bricks-n-mortar.

Jason Goldberg
BrainTrust

Clearly the mix of in-home vs. in-store purchases is changing dramatically, and I’m not sure I’d call it a “Quiet” change.

Not only are more consumers opting for out-of-store purchases (15-20% growth rates for online vs. 4% for in-store), but many of the goods that used to be physical are now virtual (music, video, games, and books are all major product categories that are evolving to digital distribution).

That doesn’t mean that brick and mortar is going away, but we are clearly seeing a shift away from a model where consumers “have” to go to the store for many needs, to a model where they will only go to the store when/if there is some unique benefit in doing so.

The ATM, didn’t put the bank teller out of business, but it did fundamentally change the calculus about when/why you’d go to a bank branch. We’re seeing a similar evolution of retail.

Robert DiPietro
BrainTrust

The landscape of retail is changing and the transparency of pricing/value is the most noticeable change. Customers can quickly answer the question “am I getting a good deal?” This is the biggest impact to brick and mortar retailers heavily influenced by mobile devices.

I don’t think brick and mortar goes away. With the generation of I want it now, they will continue to make brick and mortar purchases as a way to get instant gratification.

Ed Rosenbaum
BrainTrust

Online shopping is definitely going to increase as more of the younger generation matures and become the major shopping force. While I do see the trend away from in-store shopping as the major buying power, I see the brick & mortar sites becoming smaller in size as opposed to disappearing.

Lee Kent
BrainTrust

We must remember that today’s consumer wants to shop when they want, how they want and where they want. Smart retailers will learn how to give them all three while still delivering a great brand experience. This will take online, bricks and mortar as well as extended formats.

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

I posed this question to a group of retail leaders in Chicago last week. Their answer was that the purpose of stores will evolve, stores will shrink, and that kiosk you carry in your pocket will become more important over time. Expect big changes over the next twenty years….

Rama Srinivasan
Guest
Rama Srinivasan
5 years 2 months ago

Retail has been evolving and online retailing is one other evolution. Will this take over the stores? I don’t think so. If the retailers are smart, online and offline stores can coexist and very successfully.

Technology will of course affect/effect the way consumers have been shopping. Which direction that will take is the research presently; no one can predict. My research is to understand how to keep the technologically savvy consumer to keep coming to the brick and mortar stores. So far, it seems like the new consumers would like to start from the stores rather than the online format for some categories like apparel.

Martin Mehalchin
BrainTrust

There’s a saying about the impact of technology change; it’s overestimated in the short run and underestimated in the long run. Ten years ago it was more of a hype cycle, but now we’ve hit the underestimated in the long run phase. Amazon and many other online players are currently out-executing almost all brick and mortar players and major banners like Best Buy have been pushed into crisis. Adrian’s comments above are spot on; retailers that want their business to endure must agressively reinvent their model and build for a cross-channel future.

Doug Stephens
Guest
Doug Stephens
5 years 2 months ago

Coincidentally I’m doing a keynote on this very topic in about 2 hours.

The truth is that the strategic purpose of a store has shifted. Technology has displaced bricks and mortar as the sole means of distribution and will continue to do so on an even steeper trajectory as mobile connectedness plays a larger role in the lives of consumers. As a consequence, stores are going to be treated more like media points than distribution points. As opposed to simply moving product, the job of the store will be to sell brand experiences, technology and collateral that allows consumers to engage across platforms with the brand — wherever they are, whenever they want.

The way we measure a store’s success will become more like the way we measure media today, through impressions and downstream commerce. This doesn’t mean bricks and mortar aren’t important — just the opposite. It does mean however, that we need to begin regarding their purpose very differently.

Fabien Tiburce
Guest
Fabien Tiburce
5 years 2 months ago

Shoppers will follow the path of least resistance. If it’s easier and/or cheaper to shop online, they’ll shop online. Having said that, there are many categories unsuited to online shopping: food service, convenience and anything requiring a lot of interaction between the shopper and the sales rep (would you order a custom kitchen online?). In other words, anything that can be commoditized, eventually will be. The decision to purchase many goods online or in store will be predicated on pricing, customer service and convenience.

Bobby Martyna
Guest
Bobby Martyna
5 years 2 months ago

Traditional bricks and mortar stores will soon go the way of phone booths and pay phones — remember waiting in line at the airport for a pay phone? Not all that long ago. What could a pay phone company do today to lure you away from your mobile phone?

Retailers should lose the mind set that their physical stores are their business — and realize that their brand is their business. Until this happens, they will be emotionally encumbered, their brand will suffer and they will miss the opportunity to survive.

Over the next decade, I believe most retailers will divest the majority of their real estate holdings and will use the cash to fund online and mobile solutions; that’s where many of their customers are now, and the majority will be in the near future.

Tim Henderson
Guest
Tim Henderson
5 years 2 months ago

No one can dispute that technology will continue to impact and forever change how retailers run their operations and how shoppers shop. But I don’t see this as a war between bricks-and-mortar stores and tech-enabled shopping experiences. It’s all retailing; it’s all about selling product to people. It’s smart, multichannel retailers that are learning to use all the tools available to them — stores, circulars, catalogs, websites, mobile phones, apps, etc. — to create convenient and exciting shopping experiences, build relationships with consumers and turn browsers into buyers.

Rather than “trending away” from bricks-and-mortar stores, the tech-enabled shopping experience is part of the continued evolution of a dynamic industry that must always evolve to keep pace with the ever-changing lifestyles of ever-changing consumers. The very nature of technology does clearly quicken the pace of change, and store formats and shopping experiences will fall in and out of favor. But if merchants can’t successfully create experiences that resonate across both consumers’ real and virtual lifestyles — because today’s consumers do exist in both spaces — the bigger concern will be a trending away of shoppers to competing brands that do understand how multichannel consumers shop.

Herb Sorensen
BrainTrust
This article is pretty much right on, except that I don’t think that retail is trending “away” from bricks as much as the IP of online retailing, including mobile, is moving IN on the bricks. Notice all the discussion here about Apple stores, Google stores, Amazon delivering in the back rooms of C-stores, etc. Amazon is the most forward thinker in the retail space, and still knows more about actually selling to human beings than nearly any bricks retailer. As long as that continues to be true, Amazon will continue to have the “pick of the market” in terms of what they are going to service. The continuing backwards, supply chain, focus of bricks self-service retailers gives them real strength in the battle to low cost/low price. But doesn’t do diddly squat for them in understanding how shoppers sell themselves in self-service. Amazon’s selling skills and massive state of the art supply chain will trump all others, if and when Amazon comes across the line fully into bricks, possibly through equity partnership with a major bricks retailer. Battle positions are only being taken and honed at this point. The real war in “The Third Wave of Retailing” is still pending.
Veronica Kraushaar
Guest
Veronica Kraushaar
5 years 2 months ago

We have blogged frequently about this trend, and strongly believe that traditional bricks-and-mortar shopping will have to change dramatically to sustain growth. Pop-up stores and flash sales sites (yes, even for fresh food, which was not believed until Gilt Groupe did it) are the new retail darlings. The surviving (savvy) retailers will find ways to integrate the “showroom” their stores will become (meets basic need of human touch and interaction) and the online experience (can’t be beat for convenience and value). HI-tech + hi-touch will be the model.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
5 years 2 months ago

A few thoughts: First, this is an excellent brief on the dynamic between B&M and online shopping. I look forward to an expanded report on this subject from Ken Lonyai.

Second, I was impressed by Ken’s observation that online shopping is today’s version of catalog shopping. Obviously he’s not the first to see this, but for me he made the connection more clearly than others. Having worked on the Sears Catalog bidness some decades ago for Campbell-Mithun Advertising in Chicago, and today being an inveterate online shopper, I should have understood the parallel sooner. It’s shopping without walking, version 2.0.

And third, there is no “trending away from B&M.” As catalogs did before, online shopping enhances retailer offerings. Why should retailers care about the channel their customers use to make purchases? Were B&M locations simply “showrooms” for catalog purchases and, if so, did it limit sales in a measurable way? Retailers should sell in any way they can.

Amanda Davie
Guest
Amanda Davie
5 years 2 months ago

From the perspective of a digital retail consultancy, we’re being asked to help to shape and launch more ecommerce-only retail propositions than ever. And, of these, there are a few who are using the ‘ecommerce first’ route to market — i.e. if the business is successful online in the first instance, a decision will then be made to invest in bricks and mortar. I think this is a trend that we will see more of in the years ahead.

We’re also working increasingly with multichannel directors within retail businesses. The role of this person is to help the organisation to change culturally and organisationally, as well as commercially, as it tests new multi-platform and multi-media customer propositions. There is no place like in-store to create a rich and meaningful customer experience, so it’s definitely not the case that clicks will replace bricks.

We will see more hybrid clicks and mortar retail models, however. For example, ASOS — probably the UK’s biggest fashion ecommerce success story, if not the biggest fashion retail success story of the last decade — recently announced its new Click and Collect service — by facilitating physical collection points through other retail or goods distribution partners.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

Dr. Banks is correct in that we need to stop fixating on which channel a vendor uses: some will be B&M only, some online only, many will be both… but in the end $x in sales is $x in sales.

That having been said however, the channel does make SOME difference; specifically how do the many retailers that (at least in theory) emphasized service continue to do so when many of the ways that this manifested itself — extended hours, wide selection, knowledgeable sales staff — no longer seem relevant. Oh sure, someone can always claim “we have great tech support” or “we carry more products online than anybody else” but these hardly resonate in the same way that a physical presence did. Sadly, price will probably become an even bigger factor than it is now (if that even seems possible).

Verlin Youd
BrainTrust

Change is inevitable, particularly in retail as we have learned over the last 50 years. That being said, to echo a few others, physical retail is here to stay, albeit different from today. Recent studies (see IBM study on shopping 2011) forecast that a majority of purchases will take place in brick n mortar stores for years to come. However, retailers are going to have to really “step up” their game if they hope to be winners – using processes, approaches, and technologies to ensure on-going value.

There will always be merchandise that shoppers will want to touch and feel prior to purchase, shoppers who want the immediate satisfaction of choosing and taking something right away, and retailers who are able to create that retail magic by creating an experience the motivates shoppers to visit stores, choose merchandise, and feel the thrill of carrying it away with them.

I can’t wait to see what retail, including brick & mortar, looks like in 50 years!

Ed Dennis
Guest
Ed Dennis
5 years 2 months ago

While this might seem to be a logical progression, the logistical efficiencies of some retailers are actually giving them an advantage at the register. Online sales are driven by two major factors, well maybe three: selection, price and convenience. However, I have recently discovered products at Walmart that are less expensive than same items from Amazon or eBay (about half of eBay’s items now seem to be sold new by retailers). Walmart seems to be using a combination of buying power and logistical efficiency to deliver product including tax for less than the internet. Additionally, I now don’t have to wait 2 days for Amazon prime delivery (really only works if you order on Monday – Wednesday @ 12 noon). With Walmart.com’s free delivery to store, you can even find almost anything you want and have it delivered to your local Walmart for net pricing below Amazon. Maybe the internet isn’t the retail killer lazy retailers claim it is!

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

Trending? Well, perhaps. However, over a very long time line. The vast majority of shoppers globally are flocking to brick and mortar stores, still. Mobile/online shopping is gaining share, and brick stores are feeling pain when used as “showrooms.”

I don’t see a major shift in market share for another five years, however.

Tim Callan
Guest
Tim Callan
5 years 2 months ago
With such a broad topic it’s hard to write a short response. When the web exploded in 1995, most of us predicted a future in which a good deal of purchasing would shift on online, but even then it was clear that both channels had their own advantages. Now we have mobile in the mix, but that same fact remains. Bricks and mortar have the advantage of immediacy (I can get it right now), a richer product evaluation experience (I can touch it with my hands), and entertainment (I’m going to the mall or a downtown shopping center for its own sake rather than to obtain specific items). These advantages matter more in some categories than others. Record stores are at one end of the spectrum, and we’ve seen them suffer as a result, while something like a grocery store or an art gallery is on the other end. Smart retailers will realize where their advantages are and play them up. They will use the web, mobile, and social channels to augment their business rather than combat them. Good examples are hybridized shopping experiences where I can buy online but return in the store or buy online for same-day store… Read more »
Kai Clarke
BrainTrust

Yes. But it is rapidly trending, and carrying our concept of bricks and mortar with it. New models are being created to change our retail model into a metamorphasis of something between pure Internet retail and bricks and mortar retail. Today’s cry is adapt or perish, and the winners will adapt….

Donna Brockway
Guest
Donna Brockway
5 years 2 months ago

I see the trend as continuing to be a move to integrate mobile and bricks & mortar shopping in a fun, engaging and relevant way. Retailers can have another life; it’s just going to be very different from the one they live now. Consumers will continue to want “engagement” with both products and other shoppers, but will continue to want to buy how and when they want. More “consumer engagement” events should and will be taking place in bricks and mortar stores to offer such a shopping experience for consumers. The availability of mobile pads and terminals in stores will be important, along with the whole “experience” that shoppers want in stores.

Christopher Krywulak
Guest
Christopher Krywulak
5 years 1 month ago

It’s not that retail is trending away from bricks & mortar, which suggests the importance of physical stores is waning. Stores are not going anywhere. The article mentions that consumers depend on stores to touch and feel product, to interact socially and to walk out with their purchases. Consumers will continue to seek these retail experiences in the future.

What’s changing is the role physical stores play as other channels (particularly online, mobile and social ones) continue to evolve and grow. Indeed, physical retailers that fail to embrace this new role will vanish.

On Monday, my staff blogged (on iQmetrix.com) about a recent eMarketer study that showed how e-commerce and mobile commerce shape consumer expectations of stores. This is exactly what we’re talking about here. Regardless of the channel they’re on, consumers want consistent information, product availability, and local pickups and returns. The physical store fits within that model and retailers need to understand that.

Tom Redd
Guest

Retail is retail. It is the WOW factor. It is relationship-based — be it with the fellow shopper or with the store or site service person.

As the web and the mobile scream out retail change, the foundation of retail will remain the same — relationships, value, and the experience (WOW factor).

So, with the retail foundation in place we will see the web/mobile shoppers eat into some retailer’s space — mainly the retailers that are not willing to change or did not see it coming.

Other retailers, like Macy’s, are creating a totally new experience with the Herald Square store re-design. When the store’s new shoe department opens at the end of the year you will hear about the totally new experience at Macy’s shoes.

Stores are here for a long time — but the old experience of mortar is gone for good.

Oh, also this means when my wife joins me at NRF 2013 I will be out a load of cash … what an experience … wow!

…living for low priced shoes.

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