In March 2016 Sports Authority which is a Sporting Goods store chain with over 460 stores in 45 US states and Puerto Rico has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In May 2016 news got out that all of their 460 stores will close.
The news for other retailers also looked dim. Sears which was once America’s largest retailer announced plans in April 2016 to shut 68 Kmart stores and 10 Sears stores. In May 2016 Ralph Lauren stated that they have scheduled to close 50 stores . Aeropostale filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in July 2016. In March 2016 parent company of Men’s Warehouse announced closing of 250 stores.
Today consumers have the most choices available to them in history thanks to the internet. Companies such as Amazon.com has made shopping convenient and given individuals an amazing selection of products to choose from.
Mobile apps make it convenient for you to scan an item in a brick and mortar store only to give you online sites where you can purchase the item cheaper.
Will brick and mortar stores be dead in the near future? No I don’t think that brick and mortar will ever go away. People will always need that instant purchase that you can only get from a brick and mortar retailer. If you run out of toilet paper you can go out and get new toilet paper as an example. I do think that retail will go through a drastic change in the near future.
The internet not only gives you great selection that you can’t find in any brick and mortar store but also provide you personalization. Companies such as Addidas have miAdiddas which allows consumers the ability to create their own shoes online with personal designs, pictures or logos. Consumers will want products tailored to their own lifestyle. To give you an example a recent success has been a company called Dollar Shave Club which is a subscription service that delivers affordable high quality razors straight to your mailbox. If you shave daily you can get razors delivered once a month. If not you can have them sent to you every other month or every 3 months. No matter what product or service the consumer wants the retailers of the future will need to be more customized to the need of the consumer if they want to succeed.
The retailers of the future will also use mobile applications like a personal concierge.
A mobile app on your phone or tablet might alert you of a sale going on in a particular store and where they can find those particular products in the store. The same app might also notify you of other products you might like as well as welcoming you to the store. The key here is to provide the customer with relevant data in order to assist the customer in making purchasing decisions. If you find a pair of sunglasses you like in the store the mobile app might tell you what celebrity wore them. In store mapping and navigation will also be provided by these apps helping people find stuff throughout the stores. Imagine also not having to wait on long lines. Instead using an app for self- checkout where you can scan the item, select the payment method and finalize the transaction never once waiting in line to do so. Using mobile applications incorporating augmented reality technologies can also create a virtual fitting room. Shoppers can walk through the store seeing how they would look in something without going through the hassles of actually trying it on.
Improving the shopping experience.
Apple has done a great job with this. They combine the ease of online electronic payment with the comfort of in store shopping. How have they done that you ask? They have eliminated the cash register and have sales people handle the buying transactions via tablets and send customers their receipts via email. This completely eliminates the hassle and inconvenience of waiting on a long line just to buy that one item.
Amazon recently launched Amazon Go a mini grocery store with no check out lines and no credit card-swiping required. Shoppers just scan an app on their phone when entering the store and a sensor just tracks what the customers pick up or put back on the shelves. After the customer walks out of the store their Amazon account will be charged automatically for the times that he or she walked out with.
One of the reasons Netflix destroyed Blockbuster Video was because they were able to provide the user with a better experience than blockbuster did. Netflix used an algorithm on their website that recommended movies to subscribers based on the previous rentals that they made. Amazon.com does the same thing on their site. Each time you go to Netflix.com they will recommend products to you based on previous purchases and by also the types of products that you were recently viewing on the website.
Retailers will offer unique products.
In order for a brick and mortal retailer to survive and prosper in the future they will have to offer products that is unique and only available through them. Private Label is a product that is designed or manufactured under the name of the retailer not the manufacturer. An example of this is going to JC Penney to buy Arizona Jeans. Arizona Jeans is the private label of JC Penny and is not available anywhere else for purchase.
As I previously stated brick and mortal will never go away. I do believe their will be a major transformation in Retail in the near future.