Despite the growth of online shopping, brick and mortar stores are still critical to retail success.
“Retail stores are not dead,” said Shelley E. Kohan, VP of retail consulting at RetailNext Inc. “The retailers who continue to embrace change in their business models will be well positioned for today and in the future."
With digital shopping behaviors firmly established and store sales continuing to decline according to the company’s latest Retail Performance Pulse report, many brands in the United States are crippled with too many stores and too much space, according to Kohan. Consequently, “it's critical for stores to be reinvented in order to blend seamlessly with a brand's established digital touchpoints,” she explained.
Kohan cited the case of formerly online-only brands such as Amazon, Warby Parker, Bonobos and Rent the Runway that have opened brick-and-mortar stores in the last two years, resulting in profitability and low-cost customer acquisition.
"This is not a case of 'build it and they will come.' Instead of opening stores in areas where traffic needs to be driven, brands should invest in building out attractive stores in areas that already have high traffic,” Kohan advised. “Use the traffic-driving budget instead to deliver an exceptional in-store shopping experience and market toward shopper retention and loyalty.”
Also, the same actions toward addressing shopping trip abandonment online need to be applied in-store through customer service to eliminate friction points for the customer and achieve higher conversion rates.
“While each shopping touchpoint, digital or physical, has its inherent advantages, none will ever be able to do it all alone,” Kohan said. “The reinvention of stores to integrate with online platforms is essential to a brand's future success."