Nobody can blame retailers for asking if it’s over yet. I’m talking about the huge wave of store closings that have swept the U.S. in the past few years. Experts believe the weakest competitors have been weeded out. The retailers who are still thriving have learned which products and services to promote to consumers.
Some analysts call it the Amazon effect. Companies like Amazon have changed the retail landscape permanently. As Michael Corkery says in his New York Times article, nobody particularly enjoys wandering through huge stores buying items like laundry detergent. It's easy to see why online sales of some categories are soaring. With over 10% of online retail sales now taking place digitally, traditional operators can fight back by playing up aspects like entertainment and convenience.
We all know there is a class of customers that engages in retail therapy. These shoppers want to go to physical locations to experience the look and feel of work or formal apparel curated by staff members. Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey, in their post on Consumer Brand Builders, point out that therapy can be enhanced on a seasonal basis. During various holidays, shopping for locally-themed decorations and apparel at mom-and-pop stores can help shoppers feel like they're part of a bigger celebration.
Other retailers realize that consumers enjoy getting away from their homes and digital devices to try something different. Tiffany’s now has a café at its flagship store in New York City. There, shoppers can enjoy a “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” meal. Some apparel companies tap into the entertainment factor by giving shoppers the opportunity to spend an evening sipping wine and watching a local fashion show. To find out what fashionistas are looking for in a shopping experience, check out the AudienceSCAN report available at AdMall from SalesFuel.
Stores don’t necessarily have to carry a full inventory of products. Think Tesla. Local stores allow enthusiasts to test drive a model car and then place their order.
The current hot trend of delivering products directly to consumers may prove too inexpensive and inefficient. Some analysts believe winning retailers will be those who remove friction from the shopping experience. When shoppers order online and pick up in the store, for example, they have an opportunity to check out the merchandise. If it’s not the right size, retailers can make the return process fast and easy.
Don’t let your clients keep running ads that promote best prices. That strategy is a profit killer. Instead, encourage them to create and promote new kinds of retail experiences that connect with consumer emotions.