I suppose there is a range of subjective opinions on the topic of traditional retail and its relationship with digital retail, but I’m going to keep this simple and just give you my personal opinion formed from my own experience and research. If you’re like me and you find the over-dramatization of the supposed death of retail disheartening, then follow me to the silver lining.
Yes, traditional brick and mortar retail took a punch in the gut over recent years. Large, seemingly untouchable retailers closed and small businesses – once pillars of their community – shut their doors. This past April CNBC reported that over 150,000 retail jobs had been lost since 2017…and so began what journalists and economists called the retail apocalypse.
I’d be lying if I said that our retail sales didn’t suffer from some of the impact initially. As a retailer, I panicked when the fast and furious Internet train started barreling down the track because it affected my decades-old family business. A retail contributor named Chris Walton tweeted that said “Department stores are the horse and buggy of the 21st century.” Though we are not a department store, we are alike in that we are a storefront and I wasn’t about to become anyone’s horse OR buggy, so it was time to make some adjustments that still remain a work in progress.
The digital retailer is our new competitor and the very definition of ‘shopping’ has become a lot broader, but I am certain brick and mortar isn’t dead. I mean, let’s face it, traditional retail and digital retail CAN coexist or else we wouldn’t see Amazon investing in storefront retail. There must be value in a personal, tactile shopping experience or else Amazon would have no interest in putting eggs in the basket.
Though it’s important to acknowledge that the fundamentals of consumer behavior have changed, we need to remember that customers desire a storefront experience. Business Insider says that “Today’s consumers ask for modern brick-and-click experiences that include seamless integrations between online, mobile, and physical touch-points.” This furthers the idea that customers still want us around because they want the experience of being in our store…but their expectations have changed and it’s up to us to meet those expectations if we want to stay in business.
So just how have the traditional retailers adjusted their sails in order to prepare for the evolutionary retail voyage? For us, we began by making friends with digital retail – we learned from her, we invited her to sit with us at lunch and we became friends with her. From there, we initiated a reinvention that didn’t involve changes, but rather implementing what we learned from our new digital friend in an effort to sustain longevity and maintain relevance. Our prices are more competitive than ever before, we offer online checkout, local pickup, electronic loan payments and broadened our line of in-store services such as jewelry appraisals and repairs…and we are currently adding ways to make the customer’s experience even more convenient! But more importantly, since people still love the tactile and therapeutic shopping experience, we made sure to give them stylized, clean and inviting stores with the friendliest staff in the business. We employ real industry experts and family members that customers have dealt with year after year. We give back to our local community and to our customers on a regular basis through social media channels. In turn, our customers have rewarded us with stellar reviews and so our reputation grew organically and we owe it to them for supporting us year after year.
As you can see, brick and mortar retail has become a success story. It got into a fight with a cyber bully and now they’re coming out as best friends and they continue to learn from each other in ways where they almost NEED each other. Experiential retail mixed with click retail seems to be the new retail hybrid. From a traditional retailer’s perspective, I feel that we’ve become a blended family with the digital world and there CAN be one with the other because that’s what the customer craves and, after all, the customer is the boss.
Please come and visit us soon at 4360 South Ridgewood Avenue in Port Orange!
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