Convenience Is Crucial
The arrival of e-commerce has ushered in the era of the high-maintenance consumer. As shoppers, we now expect to access millions of products at any time and in any place. Even more demanding, we expect to find and order the products we want in a matter of minutes and receive them at our doorsteps in a matter of days or, as is increasingly the case, hours. This convenience element, unsurprisingly, is repeatedly cited as the primary reason why U.S. consumers choose to shop online.
Customers carry these new expectations with them into the physical store. For that reason, brick-and-mortar brands must make convenience a key element of store strategy. They must make the shopping experience—from entry to browsing, testing and purchasing products—as easy and painless as possible. In the era of the high-maintenance consumer, even the slightest inconvenience is enough to turn a shopper away.
Focus On Experience
Experience is one of the core competitive advantages that physical retail has over online shopping. This is the key reason why both landlords and brick-and-mortar brands seek to provide experience-oriented environments.
But what does this actually mean? It is not necessarily, as is often assumed, flat screens and fireworks in every direction. Instead, it’s about creating a tangible experience unique to your brand. For off-price giant TJ Maxx, that experience is all about the “treasure hunt” for deals and products; for appliance retailer Pirch, it’s about high-end service with free champagne or coffee and the ability to try and test out products. For many sporting goods brands, it’s about offering workshops and training classes that contribute to a brand image.
No matter what the category or value proposition, all brick-and-mortar brands need to think about how customers experience their brand. And in nearly all cases, that experience is built into the space of the store.
The Goods Still Have to be Good
No matter how convenient or rich and unique the store experience, a brand’s goods still must be good. Today, consumers have access to more choices—from brands to colors and price ranges—than ever before. This makes it ever more crucial for brick-and-mortar players to emphasize why their goods are different from the rest. Customers—no matter how high-maintenance—are willing and excited to shop in-store for products and services that offer them a unique value proposition, whether that’s through deep discounts or high quality. This rings true across all categories and price ranges, from off-price to luxury. It is only once this value proposition is strong that any omnichannel strategy can thrive.
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