We already know that, as ecommerce is booming, traditional brick-and-mortar stores are losing their exclusive role of distribution-points for goods.
That’s a fact, but not necessarily a negative one: physical stores are not anachronistic, on the contrary, they can play a new and far more important role – they’re the place to feel, live and breathe the value of products and of brands.
My point is: brick-and-mortar stores offer a shopping experience that cannot be replicated online because it is material, sensorial and experiential – the shopper interacts with real products (…and possibly with nice, consultative store associates), not through miserable 200×300-pixel images and three-line text descriptions.
Let me list the most significant reasons shoppers visit physical stores:
- “I can experience products before purchasing”
- “I like the instant gratification of taking an item home”
- “I shop and spend social time with friends and family”
- “I can get a personalized service”
An example: wineries and wine-tasting – how many people that visit a winery and taste wine DON’T buy at least a couple of fine, expensive bottles…?
Dear Retailers, please turn your physical stores into fantastic, social and thrilling settings, with new levels of involvement, relationship and value. Transform them into a new type of destination that replicates the charm and attractiveness of a disco (…or maybe an art gallery? …or both?).
French writer Emile Zola, in his novel “Au Bonheur des Dames” (The Ladies’ Delight) compares department stores to cathedrals because of their magnificent buildings, their role in society and – …think of customer-experience! – their ability to attract and enchant shoppers.
If you prefer another analogy, treat Retail as Media, curating your merchandise every month (…or every week…?), like a magazine would with its content.
I’ll tell you a secret: every item has a long-tail narrative attached to it; accordingly, stores have the aptitude to become mighty “story-telling” points that you, retailers, can employ to effectively share and promote your *STORIES*, stimulate shoppers about your products and then direct their purchase to one of your sales-channel: the physical store itself, your ecommerce website, etc.
Repeat after me: “Physical stores are still – and will be in the future – the only true product-value amplifier and the best advertisement-vehicle for my brand/brands”; here is your homework, dear Retailers: radically improve the shopping-experience created by your stores – if it’s not communicative, distinctive, outstanding and unforgettable, you’re in big trouble…
Technology in-store can help you significantly, but don’t forget that – to be really beneficial – it must satisfy the following two basic requirements:
- remove friction (…from the shopper’s point of view!!), for example, allowing purchases to seamlessly take place anywhere in the store
- provide a more personalized shopping-experience, for example offering valuable information and complementary, customized services that go well beyond products
…remember: be Consumer-centric, not Retailer-centric!
In my next Post, I’ll get into the details of in-store tech – specifically: “How to NOT employ tech in-store…”.
PS: dear Retailers, in this Post I am sharing the third preview of my new white-paper titled “The importance of brick-and-mortar stores in an omnichannel world” that you will be able to download on here (on http://www.gaia-matrix.com) very soon.
[…just to be crystal-clear: it’s a white-paper, it’s free, I’m not selling anything…]