For a long time now, some people have been predicting that the end of bricks-and-mortar retail is just around the corner. It’s true that shopping habits are evolving, but when an e-commerce juggernaut like Amazon announces it’s expanding into physical department stores, it becomes pretty clear that in-person shopping is here to stay.
That’s not to say, however, that physical retail isn’t changing. After all, Amazon is known as a disruptor and it’s not much of a jump to say that Amazon’s department stores aren’t going to give shoppers a traditional department store experience. It’s highly likely that these stores will take a more modern approach to aspects like personalisation, tech integrations and experiential shopping.
Amazon can see that, while shoppers still love physical retail (you can check out our article on just how much they love it here), there’s room to provide a better customer experience than is currently on offer. Amazon has dominated and disrupted the e-commerce space, often squashing its competitors in the process. So this move should prompt retailers to evaluate the experience they’re providing for their customers.
Customers now expect more from physical retail, and it’s a fair bet that Amazon can see how it will rise to meet or exceed these expectations and eliminate pain points from the customer journey. The reality of modern shopping is that few customers do all their shopping online or in person. Instead, the vast majority do both, and often have both digital and physical touchpoints within the same customer journey.
We’ve said before that an omni-channel marketing strategy is essential in the modern retail landscape and this holds true. But it also pays to remember that as the customer journey evolves, so too does customer expectations at each touchpoint. Physical interactions between a customer and a product will always be important, and it could be argued that the simple ability to see and feel a product can keep physical retail alive on its own. But more and more, customers are wanting an experience.
Recent lockdowns across much of Australia have, for many of us, highlighted how dissatisfying it can be when physical retail is not available — but did we stop shopping? For most of us, the answer is a resounding ‘no’. With multiple channels available, it’s easier than ever for customers to tailor the way they shop to suit their lifestyles, so it’s key for retailers to give customers a reason to visit them in-store. Physical retail is the single best way to convert as well as build brand loyalty and trust, so when customers are deciding which brands they’ll visit in-store vs online, the experience you provide in-store will be a key decision-maker.