Mall operators are on full charm offensive these days, sponsoring and speaking at as many industry events as possible. Clearly influenced by their PR departments, the message is always consistent – “everything is fine, brick and mortar is far from dead.” Yet, when pressed on why malls are becoming increasingly desolate and big box retailers are disappearing each month, they tend to shift the blame onto the brands themselves. One example was at L2’s wonderful Click and Mortar conference where Sandeep Mathrani, CEO of General Growth Properties (that own, manage, and lease a significant number of malls across the United States), told us that brands need to start selling “better products” to drive traffic. If only it was that simple!
Historically, retailers have differentiated themselves on three different vectors – assortment, price and experience. But impacted by the Internet and Amazon, assortment and price are no longer significant differentiators for physical retailers, leaving only experience. Quite simply, the brands that are no longer with us didn’t focus enough on customer experience.
The shift in the industry to refocus efforts on experience is clear to see. Well-established brands are minimizing their physical footprint in major cities, but this is in parallel with a strategy to maximize the efficiency of their remaining locations by integrating them into the entire omnichannel experience.
For this to happen, brands need to offer the right information, to the right people, at the right time. Customers should have all the information they need to make it effortless for them to purchase where, when, and how they want – effectively turning them into the point of sale. Equally as important are store associates, the heartbeat of the physical location. If they don’t have immediate and real-time access to product information, inventory, and customer data, they aren’t being empowered to do their job.
Surprisingly, our research uncovered that only 46% of store associates had access to their product catalogue through a device or table, whereas you can bet virtually every customer that enters the store has instant access on their smartphone.
Although foot traffic has declined 57% over the last few years, the average value of an in-store customer had tripled. Why? Brands are offering a better in-store experiences by leveraging technology that incorporates the digital experience into the physical store.
But how many are actually doing this? How many brands have actually unlocked retails biggest challenge – the true omnichannel experience? Get your complimentary copy of the 2017 Mobile Retail Report and learn who’s hot or not.
Brick and mortar isn’t dead and it’s not the products fault either!