- By Carla Bragagnolo
The retail landscape is shifting, quickly. Experts predict we will see more change in the next 5 years than in the last 50. That’s mostly due to the fact that technology is rapidly changing the way we interact with and buy from brands. Consumer’s desire for personalization, a shift away from “Big Box Stores”, and the necessity to be present in both online and offline realms are some of the challenges facing retailers today. Ahead are 3 brands who’ve embraced these challenges and as a result, are pulling way ahead of the competition.
Amazon – Combining the best of Online and Offline
Although brands today are forced to engage with consumers differently — over social and digital channels versus in more traditional ways — connected shoppers are still making their way into, and making purchases in stores. Because of the monumental online success Amazon has had, the digital retail conglomerate surprised everyone last year when they opened their first physical location and then announced 300 more. This is because online shopping, despite the hype, has failed to deliver in one critical area: experience. Amazon is doing an excellent job combining the benefits of a physical location with online technology. Titles that are popular options on their site are displayed prominently on shelves. Shoppers are encouraged to scan books using the Amazon app in store for reviews or similar titles, and customers experience a similar checkout process in store as online. These features allow Amazon to collect real time data on browsing and purchasing habits.
Target- Changing the concept of “Big Box Stores”
“Big Box” Retailers are struggling, and it has a lot to do with retailers like Amazon who can provide limitless variety at much lower operating costs. Target has risen to the challenge, by shrinking stores and moving to their target market, urban centres. The smaller, stripped down stores produce double the sales per square foot than larger traditional Target stores. Furthermore, Target spent 1.4 billion on tech in 2015, and despite a rocky first quarter, it appears to be paying off. They streamlined their “order online/pickup in store” process and had 40% fewer merchandisers out of stock during the holiday season.
Frank and Oak – Prioritizing a Personalized Experience
89% of millennials want personalization but only 18% see it from retailers today. Frank and Oak, a Montreal based men’s retailer (self proclaimed “trusted advisor”), started solely with an online presence, but expanded to physical locations to better offer a holistic shopping experience to consumers. When it comes to personalization, Frank and Oak is king. They combined barbers, baristas, and personal shopping assistants in their brick and mortar stores to cater to their clientele.