You’ve heard it before—e-commerce is disrupting traditional brick-and-mortar retailing in a big way, ushering in tremendous change.
From Bloomberg Businessweek to The Wall Street Journal, 2017 was filled with doom-and-gloom on the coming “retail apocalypse.” The number of stores that closed last year was the highest ever, with estimates ranging from 7,000 to 8,700 shops shuttered.
But, Christopher Ramey, a consultant with Retail Rescue, offers hope and some tools for navigating this changing retail landscape. Get his free white paper, “Retail Rescue 2018 and Beyond,” here.
Ramey’s central message is that the key to survival depends on “escaping your industry dogma to ensure your business doesn’t become lunch for Amazon and other internet retailers.”
An encouraging companion piece is Fast Company’s November feature by Austin Carr, “The future of retail in the age of Amazon.” Find it here: http://bit.ly/2C68Wv5.
Carr says “forward-thinking (retailers) are finding creative ways to succeed—and be what Amazon can never be.”
Here are some cheery takeaways from both Carr and Ramey:
1. If you strive to inject “meaning and purpose” into your store, you’ll survive.
“(Customers’) purchase decisions are often more emotional than they are rational. It’s easier to match their values than your competitor’s prices,” Ramey says.
Following this advice may be as simple as focusing on a favorite local charity or even by becoming your area’s first pet-friendly mattress retailer.
2. “The death of retail is greatly exaggerated. Retailers must leverage assets that (Amazon) doesn’t have: When Amazon zigs, retailers must zag.”
Here, Fast Company is citing New York University Stern professor of marketing Scott Galloway, who studies the retail industry. Retail may be under enormous pressure, Fast Company explains, but getting creative is key to competing with market disruptors.
All is not lost. More than 90% of retail sales still happen in retail stores, and consider how many online bed brands have turned to brick-and-mortar to advance their market share in recent months.
“The truth is that the bigger Amazon gets, the more opportunity it creates for fresh, local alternatives,” Carr says.
3. Focus on your own brand, not your vendors’ messages.
“Product alone won’t set you apart,” Ramey says. It also won’t get your store recommended on review sites or in other social media platforms.
4. Create a compelling, engaging environment.
For example, when prescription eyewear disruptor Warby Parker decided to add its own retail stores, it focused on transforming what it considered to be an intimidating retail experience at traditional vendors, “into a fun and social activity,” Fast Company reports. Those stores include “photo booths and full-length mirrors so groups can check themselves out together.”
5. End high-pressure sales.
Consider unbundling transactions from the store experience, Fast Company says. Bonobos’s “guideshops” offer fittings and fashion advice, “with the assumption customers will order their apparel online afterward.”