As recently as just a few years ago, many retail experts and commentators were predicting that online retailers would completely take over the industry, driving physical stores to extinction — and many predicted this shift would happen by the year 2020. And while there has been steady growth in online retail sales, and e-commerce has definitely seen a boom, it is becoming clear that this supposed takeover of physical stores isn’t happening anytime soon.
However, there is an interesting trend that has been emerging in retail — known as “clicks to bricks.” In this movement, online retailers aren brands are starting to move offline and open physical, bricks and mortar stores. Even Amazon, which is arguably the world”s largest online brand, now has more than 600 physical stores and location.
So what’s coming next in this clicks-to-bricks movement? What can you expect to see in 2019? Here are 2 clicks-to-bricks trends that we’re watching — and you should, too.
Retail as a Service
Retail as a service is simply a catchy way to explain how retail is now so much more than just walking into a store and picking up an item. Thanks to the rise in e-commerce and the convenience it offers, physical retailers have been forced to up their game, enhancing the in-store experience by offering customers value adds and other incentives that shoppers simply can’t find online. As a result, traditionally online retailers are getting physical — and coming up with inventive ways to get shoppers in their doors.
Meaghan Brophy, a retail analyst at FitSmallBusiness.com, says that this particular retail trend is a great opportunity, especially for smaller sellers who focus on in-person selling. She predicts that 2019 will see retailers focusing on brand loyalty and earning the trust of their customers.
She goes on to add that she predicts “independent retailers will continue to focus on the non-merchandise aspect of their business, such as hosting classes and events, offering personalized gift wrapping and delivery, registry services, and hosting private parties.”
The Experience Will Remain the Priority
While the notion of a customer’s experience is nothing ew. exactly what consumers are expecting in their experience is changing and evolving. While it was once considered good service to greet customers as soon as they walked through the door, and perhaps provide a personal recommendation or two, it is no longer enough. Rather retailers now must continue to push and expand the boundaries of customers’ in-store experience.
While this is true across the board in retail. how does it apply specifically to the clicks-to-bricks movement? Simply put, “shopping a brand needs to feel the same, regardless of the channel,” says Carlos Castelan, managing director at the Navio Group. “With an increasingly complex customer journey and dozens of customer touchpoints with brands, from apps to websites to brick and mortar stores, companies need to present a seamless experience.”
As Millennials and younger generations continue to have more buying power, it is important that retailers take note. Nearly 80% of Millennials prefer to spend their hard-earned money on experiences rather than products, and 7 out of 10 people think of shopping as a form of entertainment. In order to stay relevant, retailers need to take notice of this — and respond accordingly.