As retail evolves into distinct online and physical realms, the best brick-and-mortar stores stand to profit – IF THEY DO IT RIGHT!
4M Performance receives requests for assistance in developing retail outlets of all sorts. From Fun and Entertainment Centers to After-market Car Accessory Shops.
The retail revolution was underway long before the pandemic hit. No crystal ball was required to predict that remote consumption would rise exponentially and, in a world where need-driven spending was the work of a few clicks, retailers would have to try ever harder to draw dedicated customers through their doors for desire-driven purchasing.
The pandemic merely served to accelerate the entire retail revolution, which has only made tapping into this “passion economy” even more vital for the future of brick-and-mortar retail.
People with an obsession be it with a brand, product category, hobby, will always value the opportunity to further their knowledge, connect with their tribe, and shop. To find the perfect thing, they will leave the house. Stores need to be magnets for these mavens, collectors, and connoisseurs, where they want to spend time and, more crucially their money.
The key is to think of your store in a holistic manner. Considering emotional, tactile elements, such as lighting, design, music, scents. Welcoming, accessible and multifunctional spaces programmed with exciting and inspiring content, which give the shopper endless new reasons to visit, – are becoming the norm.
In the future, retail spaces at their best will have a lot in common with public spaces. They will be able to provide a trusted, unforced environment that fosters community and, in so doing, cultivates a connection with customers and builds subtle but indelible brand equity. However, at the end of the day, it is the product – and someone’s passion for that product – that remains king.
While they are described as ‘brick-and-mortar’, a store or shop’s biggest asset is always the people inside them. Businesses should be looking to create places where people can come together. Spaces that act as unhurried forums for the exchange of ideas and insights.
With social media allowing anyone and everyone to become instant pseudo-experts just by running a search, ‘real’ shoppers want the opportunity to test knowledge in a hard-venue, as that environment makes it much harder to cheat or fake. Staff who can speak passionately, who know their clients on an individual basis, and will alert them when a product comes in that might excite them or complete their collection, are also vital.
This sort of personal curation – is very appealing to customers looking to cement their status as insiders, to own the latest or hardest to find item.
So, retailers should be thinking more widely about the pool of people they employ, seeking out cross-generational staff, actively employing flexibly and inclusively, valuing skills and knowledge gained, in some cases, over a lifetime of learning.
Sustainability should be at the forefront of all those in or wanting to get into the retail game. Having been a member of the U.S. Green Building Council for many years, I know, first hard, how much energy and water can be saved by employing eco-friendly business practices.
Things you value, things that are not bought online on a whim, are loved and repaired, not quickly discarded and replaced – there is cachet in something well-chosen that will be long cherished.
The retail space of the future needs to offer more that the products themselves.
A trip to the store needs to be pleasurable, enriching, and worthwhile. It is a place to slow down and help you make good decisions and good choices. Browsing, socializing and discovering new products are best enjoyed when supported by skilled staff and inviting space. Spending time in a restful, social setting is a respite for a busy life.
Reports of the death of brick-and-mortar stores have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, I believe, that thanks to the ‘passion economy’ and mavens, collectors, and connoisseurs worldwide, the future of physical retail will be very healthy and rewarding.