Retail is Not Dead Because Customer Experience is Key

2017 may go down as the year of ‘the death of in-store retail’ or, as most have called it, ‘the retail apocalypse’. But experts have gotten it all wrong.

With global online retail sales predicted to reach almost 9% of total retail spending in 2018, the misunderstanding is that brick-and-mortar retailers are trailing behind and suffering tremendously as a result of the influx of mobile and digital commerce. While technology is a critical part to the brick-and-mortar retailer, it is not the final death sentence to retail as we know it, and those retailers have the immersive, experience-driven customers to thank for that.

For retailers, the use of omnichannel functions as a means to meet and service customers wherever they may be in their shopping journey.  Sure, there are many customers who like the convenience of shopping online, but the immersive, experience-driven customer prefers to do some online window shopping and then go into the store to complete his/her purchase. According to a 2017 State of Retail report surveying 2,000 consumers about their behaviors around retail shopping, 50% revealed they sometimes browse online then make their way to the store to finish their purchase.

Bricks-and-mortars’ key advantage is clear: it is still a place where people can go see and feel products, and receive personalized service. Knowing this, now is the opportune time for retailers to integrate technology elements within the in-store experience.  Retailers like Nordstrom are distinctly known for its pristine, in-store customer experience and are one of few to set themselves apart through use of digital experiences like mobilePOS, and mobile services like its Reserve Online and Try In-Store service which has recently extended to more than 50 stores throughout the US.

While technology plays a huge role with improving the in-store customer experience, it also increases brand confidence and loyalty among consumers, as well as up-selling opportunities.  In fact, 60% of people surveyed (in the 2017 State of Retail report) would feel more confident of prompt personal service if associates collaborated via mobile devices or tablets, while 49% of people surveyed say they would be willing to pay more for products if they had a highly personalized in-store experience.

Present opportunities with retail and technology confirms that in-store shopping isn’t dead. If anything, brick-and-mortar retailers are using online shopping to its benefit. It’s a part of the technological dynamic that is leveraging in-store customer experiences, and there will be more of that to come in the year ahead. 

Photo of a busy mall.

2017 may go down as the year of ‘the death of in-store retail’ or, as most have called it, ‘the retail apocalypse’. But experts have gotten it all wrong.