As Madison Marquette works with centers across the country to match customer anticipation, expectation and enjoyment with retail realities, it has become clear that certain factors are key.
While technology can deliver important innovation, shoppers still seek the human touch. Merchants who can deliver enticing product assortment along with knowledgeable sales personnel continue to succeed in gaining loyalty and repeat business. In a recently released report by Bain & Co., it was found that 75 percent of sales will still occur in physical location stores by 2025.
Where technology intervenes for the best, shoppers are partaking in “augmented retail.” This trend blends both the online experience with brick and mortar – allowing the consumer to inform himself/herself on choice, brand and price – along with purchase method.
Story telling remains key. Shoppers want both digital and in-person empathy. They want to be engaged in shopping experiences that offer opportunities to attend lectures, fashion shows, designer appearances and with social media that tracks history, culture and educational offerings including exercise, fitness and art. Examples of brands that have captured this ethos include MatchesFashion, Yoox and Sephora.
Physical stores are working to improve the check-out experience, parking and other accessibility issues. Customers who are tech-savvy are also looking for such innovations as the “magic mirror” concept where they can try on different looks with their smart phones. Dynamic communication via smart phone continues to drive sales as well with stores increasingly promoting items to customers as they shop.
Pop up stores within stores allows more conventional merchants to contend with fast fashion – examples include Nordstrom’s SPACE concept and Lord & Taylor’s upcoming “The Gallery.” Other features being pursued by brick and mortar retailers involve concierge service, highly specialized personal shoppers and delivery speed.
Ultimately, retailers are forced to bridge the divide between online and in store. Just as shoppers are constantly shifting from their digital universe to their weekend mall visit, retailers must use technology and data to create personalized shopping experiences that attract even the most wired consumer. Keeping retail opportunities intimate and customized is an advantage that brick and mortar stores will always enjoy if they master the art of on-site personalization.