The popularity of brick and mortar retail has not been diminished by the ever-changing technologies and the rise in online shopping. However, mastering both in-store and online customer experience is key to future success.
Helen Dickinson (CEO of the British Retail Consortium) wrote in Raconteur, that while online shopping is still on the rise, the pandemic has accelerated consumer behavior and the way we shop. She argues that this is changing the role of high street stores, and must be able to find new ways to attract customers. Many retailers have made huge investments in expanding their online capabilities and digital connectivity to their customers.
“Experiential retail was a form of retail that took place in hibernation during pandemic. Now, it is back with more pop-ups, shows and entertainment. The integration of in-store and online retail will continue. Customers who shop online, browse in-store and then buy in-store prove the value of all channels.”
Lockdown made it difficult for shoppers to go into stores and touch products, as well as have more physical experiences. As technology continues to change the retail landscape, this should be the anchor for integrating physical and digital.
McKinsey claims that the UK is leading in online shopping with 20% of UK shoppers shopping online entirely or mostly. McKinsey’s report, Rebooting Retail, proposes that “the future retail experience will be propelled through physical technology and advanced analysis to meet changing consumer needs, while allowing retailers reset the operating model, and economics.”
Disruption in the retail industry
Retailing is not about maximising every square inch in a store. Retailers used to fill every square inch with shelves and rails, stacking these with products to maximize margins. This strategy is no longer relevant in an omnichannel world. Shoppers want to be able to interact with brands and enjoy a more personal shopping experience in-store. According to URW, 89 percent of Westfield Mall customers want more technology in-store.
It is possible to combine a physical and an online experience, but still have separate businesses. The line between e-commerce experience and the in-store experience is blurring for the consumer.