BORING retail is dead, physical retail is not

01 May 2018

The past decade has seen a drastic change in the way that consumers buy goods; from clothes to groceries, the internet has given consumers new ways to browse and compare items.  More than 70 million square feet of retail space is set to close down in 2018 within the United States (source: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/05/heres-a-map-of-the-big-box-stores-closing-in-2018.html).  Which begs the question, is retail officially dead?  The answer, plain-and-simple, is no.  Retail is far from dead, but boring retail is dead.

Although many retailers are feeling the massive disruption that has been brought upon by the shift in the way consumers shop, the reality is that physical retail is essential, and is growing.  In 2017, the number of retail stores has grown 50% year-over-year in the USA, and 59% year-over-year in the UK (source: https://www.fungglobalretailtech.com/news/weekly-store-openings-closures-tracker-38-h-bon-ton-misses-interest-payment/).  Remaining retailers have proven to defy the speculation that retail is dead by recognizing change and adopting new systems that align with the way consumers are shopping in 2018. The retail industry is seeing the biggest shift in its existence, retailers have kept up with this shift by providing new ways to entertain and engage with their audiences.  These changes include:

1.  Adding self-checkout stations
With the ease of online shopping combined with the ability to communicate without the need for speaking (text, email, social media, etc.). many people prefer to use self-checkout stations instead of having to deal with a cashier or teller, although their need/desire for a tangible retail experience still exists.  Sounds smug?  Maybe.  But this is the reality of our changing world.

2.  Implementing interactive way-finding solutions
Malls and large department stores can be confusing and difficult to navigate through - especially when compared to typing in your desired item within your internet browser.  Retailers have recognized this as a potential problem, which is why interactive digital way-finding has been a hot trend.  Any obstacle for a customer is a potential lost sale.

3.  Use of website and social media
Don't run from the internet trend, embrace it!  Just because a retailer believes in having a physical location, that doesn't mean that they should exclude the need for the internet.  Leverage the power of the internet by getting online shoppers to make their purchases online, then picking up their items in store.  Once they're in the store, this is an opportunity to up-sell other products/services.

4. Beacons and geofencing
Consumers will enter an area and receive alerts about nearby promotions relevant to their interests, thus, drawing them into the retail location