Geaves Surfaces has looked into the UK retail industry to find the answers. Highlighting the market’s facts and figures, they’ve taken examples from leading stores around the world that are changing physical retail for the good, bringing customers back to their stores and offering something they cannot find online.
What’s happened to Brick & Mortar?
Retail footfall is on the decline, with many retailers offering profit warnings to investors on an almost constant basis now. Online retail is not slowing down; it is gaining pace and quickly eating up the industry share of physical stores, with almost e-commerce now accounting for one fifth of total retail sales.
With physical retail, companies now need to rethink their strategy and invest in placing the stores at the forefront of what’s possible. This means changes in experience, design and customer focus.
Customers want to associate themselves at retailers who understand them, with 65% of consumers are more likely to shop at a retailer who knows their purchase history. Physical stores might think that this data is simply for e-commerce, but a strategic blend needs to happen between the two if stores are to evolve. Customers are growing tired of retail stores that are not advanced enough for their needs, because shopping no longer feels like a privilege, it feels like a pain.
The amount of UK retail shops and stores that closed in the first half of 2018 is startling. Thousands of closures across the country aptly demonstrate that this industry is falling and falling fast. Industry experts might point to the severe weather conditions seen during the first half of the year, but retail footfall levels have been steadily declining before this.
How You Can Optimise Your Retail Store
Re-imagine the Space: Make it more than just a store, not just a place in which to transact. Give customers some visual flair in which to view your products and services – defining a clear store colour can help entice consumers inside.
In San Francisco, Apple’s flagship store have designed clear spaces where browsers can sit, eat, work and utilise free Wi-Fi.
Change up the Experience: Can you change the consumer experience? Can you utilise new technologies to market your products, such as AR/VR? Give them something that they rarely find anywhere else.
GAME, the UK’s most popular video game store, offers experiences that you cannot get when you look purchase online. Demonstrating the newest technology in designated areas, GAME gives you a chance to play the newest releases via VR. Try-before-you-buy – or ‘Experimental Retail’ – is an excellent option in any physical store, giving customers the chance to form a better opinion.
Focus on Your Customer: Put yourself in their shoes and imagine yourself on their journey. Have they found your product on social media through an image? Can this image be identified in-store? Will your customer be wanting to share their journey to your store?
Missguided opened a new store in London recently that took inspiration from a general TV studio. This particular store, designed to stop consumers in their tracks, featured a completely open door-free entrance, encouraging shoppers to share this store on social media.
Is there a Future for Physical Retail?
Whilst there is a number of statistics telling us that the industry is doing nothing but declining, there is still value to be added if organisations branch out their strategies and learn to take more risks. Boring retail is playing it safe. Boring retail is dead.
In 2019, there is no option to play it safe.
Tom Hutchinson is a copywriter from retail surface design firm Geaves Surfaces