Always a hot topic on this blog – and indeed at Barber Design where we always seek to use appropriate retail technology in our award-winning retail designs – the topic of when and how physical stores should embrace retail tech was up for discussion again recently as Simon Calver discussed the hot potato of bricks-and-mortar retailers in Retail Week.
As reported many times here on the blog – several online-only stores have started branching into physical retail and recognise the importance of having physical ‘showrooms’ where consumers can go in and see, touch and test the goods on offer. However, it is a two way street and physical-only stores need to take the same steps to make sure that they are embracing retail technology in the same manner that their digital counterparts have been.
Calver suggests that this is an exciting time to be in retail and also an exciting time to be adopting new technology – but – he asserts that physical stores really need to up their game and embrace these changes in the way that their digital counterparts have been or things are going to get difficult:
“For those who do not embrace this, life is going to be tough. It’s tough enough already but it is going to get a whole lot worse.”
One of the key factors for successful omnichannel retailing is ensuring that your online brand matches your in-store experience – with accessible features, such as click-and-collect strengthening your proposition, rather than weakening it.
Another crucial factor is data – Calver suggests that many stores are not doing enough with all the valuable information that they have collected via their online processes. Data can provide meaningful insights into customer journeys, which can help to make the synergy between online and physical stores more cohesive and reinforce your brand.
He suggests that the best way to keep ahead of the market is to check out what entrepreneurs and start-ups are doing. Stay flexible, plan ahead and embrace new technology. As discussed before on the blog, brands such as Blockbuster might still be with us if they had foreseen the trends in streaming and digital content, rather than stoically sticking with physical rentals. Sticking with what you know isn’t always the best option in our rapidly changing retail market and by using tech to enhance your brand and tailor customer experiences you can stay ahead of the game and perhaps even lead the charge.