For years now, analysts have predicted that the rise of mobile technologies and the ascendance of e-commerce would result in the demise of brick-and-mortar retail spaces of all sizes. As retail went digital, the idea was, physical space would become redundant. But while pivoting to a new digital paradigm hasn’t been easy, the retail industry’s ability to adapt has been notable and impressive. In fact, as cities grow and new hordes of consumers flock to establish themselves in urban communities, opportunities for innovation are emerging that suggest brick-and-mortar may be the pillar of a new retail era.
Experience-driven retail: The rise of flagships, curated satellites, pop-ups, and concept shops
Urban consumers strongly favor the in-store shopping experience—with an emphasis on the experience. 18% of urban millennials expect to shop more in stores in the coming year than they did the last. When they do, they expect more than just a transaction. They want a unique experience that differentiates their spending and are willing to pay, on average, 31.6% more for it.
From flagship stores to short-lived, curated experiences, the future of retail involves meeting shoppers on their own terms—in the physical spaces they prefer.
Brick-and-mortar and the informed consumer experience
For retailers, the ability to collect and synthesize on-premise information and shopper behavior and preferences represents a huge opportunity to extend personalization and customization. Over the past few years, businesses have tested strategies that both gather intelligence and facilitate the consumer journey, and already, some of these efforts are bearing fruit. In fact, 60% of shoppers report opening and engaging with beacon-triggered content while shopping in-store.
Maya Mikhailov, co-founder of GPShopper, notes that using this information effectively requires some detective work: Retailers should decide on customer engagement goals first, then identify the systems they’ll need to achieve them. GPShopper maps and integrates those data sources and helps brands to build mobile shopping apps that are useful, engaging, and seamlessly dovetail with in-store offerings.
Mikhailov emphasizes that developing these apps should ultimately serve the customer experience, and notes that the modern shopper’s purchasing journey is complex and multifaceted. The most successful brands she’s worked with—brands like Steve Madden and Lane Bryant—understand this.
These retailers are maximizing customer engagement by building personalized and content-filled shopping experiences that provide utility through the fusion of technology and data. Consumer device capabilities and information about location, consumer profiles, and preferences are considered in tandem to deliver services that best align with consumers’ needs and expectations of the brand.