As major retailers like Sears fall like very large dominos, you’d be forgiven for thinking the death knells have sounded for brick and mortar retail.
Closer to home, Myer is grappling with its own downward trend, with the retailer last month posting a $486 million annual loss.
So how are things going wrong for such significant retail players? And how can brick and mortar retailers’ future-proof their market share?
While there’s no overnight solution, there are reasons that some brands are able to buck even the toughest of economic conditions.
Take these five tips into account and you’ll be on your way to ensuring you have a thriving brick and mortar retail space both now and into the future.
- Be customer-centric
Brands can sometimes go wrong by trying to be everything to everyone. Knowing your customer and talking specifically to them, rather than utilising generic messaging, is key. This relates to your physical retail space and fit-out, as well as your other engagement touchpoints, such as a user-friendly website and your social media presence. M.J. Bale founder Matt Jensen is quoted saying that customer service is what sets his high-performing brand apart. Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman agrees, saying that creating a seamless customer experience includes an easy returns process, and good product pick-up and delivery options.
- Change it up
Product also must remain fresh and contemporary. Limited edition products and designer capsule collections, like those employed by high street brands Uniqlo and H&M in partnership with the likes of J.W. Anderson and Erdem, create a fear of missing out – and the market responds accordingly.
- Show, don’t just sell
In 2018, a brick and mortar retail space must be more than just a place that sells product. Retailers need to be much more interactive, and really showcase their products. In my recent blog postabout my time working at The Body Shop under the leadership of Dame Anita Roddick, I touched on how the company was ahead of its time by encouraging people to not only see but also touch and smell their products. Successful retailers will take up the opportunity to act as showrooms where customers can interact with products in beautiful surroundings. Liberty London, is one example of a destination department store that lovingly curates its products, showcasing artists from around the world, and acting as a launching pad for emerging and undiscovered artists. No wonder the brand has enjoyed success since it opened its doors in 1875.
- Encourage interaction
Encouraging interaction and discovery for guests must go further still. Brick and mortar retailers have the opportunity to educate consumers, and provide face-to-face opportunities for interactions with not only products, but also their designers and makers. Retailers must get savvier about how best to do this, and build a real community of supporters. Examples include internal pop up stores within a larger department store, a calendar of travelling artists and producers, and regional roadshows. The key is a space that is always changing and evolving. Matt Jensen of M.J. Balerefers to the “theatre of shopping”, saying, “You’ve got to entertain people as they part with their money.”
- Quality is key
Still, repeat sales increasingly come down to quality. Trends suggest consumers are growing increasingly discerning, and are turning away from products that are lacking in quality and ethics. This is undoubtedly one of the reasons why trusted brands such as Swarovski and Tiffany & Co. are continuing to open new brick and mortar storesin a volatile economic climate. Thankfully the trend is not only prompting many retailers to clean up their supply chains, but also to ensure they’re providing real value to customers.
So whether you’re selling food, homewares, fashion, or something entirely different, remember that outstanding customer service, fresh, quality product, customer engagement, and an interactive retail environment will all help to future-proof your brick and mortar retail space.
To find out more about Kiikstart’s business planning and coaching offerings for clients in the retail sector, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.