Brick and Mortar Stores Still Matter

Brick and Mortar Stores Still Matter

I know we’ve said this time and time again, but I feel like it’s worth repeating – brick and mortar stores still matter.

Yes, we live in a digital age where online shopping is on the rise and holiday spending at brick and mortar retailers is anticipated to drop from 55% to 50% this year.

But, and this is a big but, a recent study about consumers’ omni-channel shopping preferences by A.T. Kearney found that 90% of all U.S. retail sales still happen in stores. Consumers in all age groups prefer shopping at a physical store to shopping online.

In fact, brick and mortar stores are not only one of the retail industry’s cornerstones, but they are also its future.

Retail vacancy rates for neighborhood and community shopping centers dropped to 10.3% in Q2 of 2014. In line with declining vacancy rates, planned store openings in the U.S. reached a 2014 high this November – with more than 77,547 new locations to be opened in the next 24 months.

The numbers relating to store openings only refer to traditional brick and mortar retailers. They don’t include the many physical stores being opened by formerly online-only retailers such as Warby Parker, Birchbox and Bonobos.

However, just because those numbers are good, doesn’t mean brick and mortar retailers don’t have their work cut out for them; much innovation needs to happen moving forward.

Consumers drive today’s retail market – meaning that retailers must adapt their business models to meet the needs of the constantly changing consumer and retail landscape.

To maintain relevance and win sales, retailers need to:

  • Focus on customers and invest in brick and mortar innovation – simply, invest in the customer experience. With a physical store you create and control the customer experience. You need to determine how you want your customers to engage with your brand and only you can truly tell your brand story. As a retailer, this becomes your greatest opportunity and responsibility.

  • Recognize customer data is THE competitive advantage – these days customer data is running the world. If harnessed the right way, it can allow retailers to understand their customers, understand how their best customers want to interact with their brand and products and build a marketing ecosystem of connected data that puts the customer first. It allows retailers to deliver an experience that meets their customers’ expectations and simply, makes their customers happy. With the explosion in the amount of data available, being able to properly analyze large data sets has become a key basis of competition while setting the stage for productivity, growth and innovation.

The Bottom Line:

Even though times are changing, brick and mortar stores are here to stay. The shopping experience, however, must be personalized to who your customers are.

A one-size-fits-all strategy simply won’t do.

Customer data and insight are essential when shaping your brick and mortar growth strategies, business goals and marketing activity. And with the proper analytic solution, it’s possible to achieve the type of understanding to successfully bring your brand to new heights.

If you’re looking to gain an edge this year while growing your store network, let’s discuss how customer analytics can help optimize your expansion efforts.