1. Become experience centres
Retail innovation, including magic mirrors and VR, can create interest for buyers and become a compelling reason to visit a store. They can also improve personalisation. For example, Sephora’s colorIQ technology personalises and creates a four-digit code by scanning the face which can be used to purchase the right make-up base.
2. Buy anywhere, deliver anywhere, return anywhere
The online world will have lower margins given the price competition and free delivery modes. Digital native companies will always do better in online sales compared to traditional ones but bricks-and-mortar has many other distinct advantages, such as cross-channel delivery models like click and collect. The strategy of ‘buy anywhere, deliver anywhere, return anywhere’ creates seamless experiences across channels through technological investments.
3. Become fulfilment centres
This will lead to increased availability of inventory at no extra holding cost. Businesses can also get away with distribution centres and associated real estate costs. Proximity helps in same day deliveries and retailers can even think about an hourly delivery model. For grocery and fresh food items, this is a boon as items can be picked from the store and shipped across swiftly. Many retailers including Target and Tesco are already doing it. Walmart used its store associates as delivery personnel on their way back home.
4. Stores provide touch and feel
Online technologies still cannot replace the touch and feel of the product that retail stores provide. A UF Warrington research (Florida) actually showed that online sales went up by 29% when the retailer opened a bricks-and-mortar store, indicating consumers really try the product in the store and buy it online. For the same reason, Amazon’s decision to acquire Whole Foods and open an experimental grocery store has attracted a lot of interest. So the bottomline is, stores are important but the retailer needs to reimagine the role of the store.