3 Predictions for the Future of Brick-and-Mortar

3 Predictions for the Future of Brick-and-Mortar

Brick-and-mortar has been through a lot lately. If you only listened to the doomsday preachers, you’d think not only retail but all brick-and-mortar — grocery stores, banks, restaurants — would be a barren wasteland by 2020.

The reality is proving to be much different. After a period of shakeup and store closures, things are starting to look up. Sales for publicly traded retailers have been on a steady incline since 2013; big box stores have closed locations to see remaining ones flourish. Unemployment is falling overall, wage growth is starting to pick up. The so-called retail apocalypse was a brick-and-mortar transition.

 If retailers and other brick-and-mortar businesses want to thrive in this new landscape, they’re going to have to keep innovating. The good news is it doesn’t have to be hard. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, just innovate your day-to-day.  

Prediction 1: the “stores as destinations” trend matures and expands

Society’s relationship to brick-and-mortar businesses has forever changed. So far, brick-and-mortar businesses have tried to address changing customer attitudes by leaning into the aesthetics of a space — doing it for the ‘gram. When it comes to making brick-and-mortar a valuable experience in this new reality, making a store or space look cool is a great start, but it’s just that — a starting point.

In 2019 and beyond, the idea of the store as a destination will mature beyond creating stores that are neat to look at and into places of experience.

And they’re not the only ones; other brick-and-mortar institutions like grocery stores and banks will also embrace experiences. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach to building a store or service offering, brands and businesses will evaluate what their customers value and address those needs.

Everyday Retail Magic

Cult beauty brand Glossier applied the concept of experience to their New York flagship store. At every turn, visitors are connected to the brand in a personal way that demonstrates the kind of emotional commerce brands can lean into. For Glossier, this means dedicating parts of their store to encouraging content creation from fans and loyalists instead of sales.

How does this work for them? Think witty sayings on mirrors for the perfect selfie, or giant sculptures of their products for a very meta experience that’s part Jeff Koons exhibit, part real-life IGTV. This is a perfect example of taking the store beyond looking neat and turning store design into a real, authentic experience. Rather than splashing pink paint on the walls and calling it a day, Glossier taps into the idea of makeup culture as an artistic one.

For your business, this might mean empowering your staff to serve value to your visitors that doesn’t hinge on a same-day sale. Grocery stores can evolve the free sample concept, for example. Live meal prep and cooking demonstrations that offer shoppers tips and samples they can’t get online gives people a reason to come in-store.

Prediction 2: quick-stop brick-and-mortar fills a new niche

For ease and convenience, you do business online.

For a tangible, worthwhile experience, however, people will visit the brick-and-mortar businesses of the future. You might think this will mean the end of the traditional store, and you’re probably right — but that’s not the whole picture. Somewhere between ecommerce and experience, there’s a niche for a quick in-store experience.

Convenience stores aren’t new (our home city of Montreal is steeped in the history of the depanneur), but they can be reinvented to better serve a busier, more connected populace. The quick-stop store is going to spread beyond its traditional domain as a literal corner market and become a strategic part of the brick-and-mortar strategy for a spectrum of businesses.

Go, Go, Go

Amazon’s Amazon Go stores are already capitalizing on this concept. Stores optimized for busy urbanites who need to grab and go are popping up around the States. With plans to build thousands of Go stores, Amazon is going to push this business model into realms its biggest competitors can’t ignore. Within a few years, the quick-stop clothes store might be as common as the quick-stop gas station.

How do the rest of us keep up?

You don’t need to sacrifice your new focus on experience to cater to convenience. Click and collect is a customer-pleasing measure that businesses can offer today. With click and collect, you serve your customers with the most convenience possible; they buy online and pick up whenever they want. It’s that simple — make your store a quick-stop by allowing people to stop in to pick up their purchase.

Prediction 3: personalization gets… personal

Imagine walking into your local coffee shop on a busy morning. On your wifi-enabled device, you’re greeted with your purchase history and asked if you’d like to reorder. No matter what you do, the personal identification cuts down on the time you need to spend in line.

You have similar experiences when you go shopping. All of your online and offline purchases have been synched at your favourite store, so the sales associates know want you need before you do, serving you a seamless retail experience. When you’re at the grocery store after work, your purchase history of affordable ingredients for simple meals is used to suggest delicious, quick suppers you can shop for without breaking the budget.

These are all little things that, as customers, we’ve come to expect from ecommerce. While some businesses are experimenting with brick-and-mortar personalization today, the future will see this kind of offline personalization become commonplace.

Getting Close

Customers are getting more and more eager to share their data with businesses if they get something in return. When surveyed, 64% of customers said they’d be alright with businesses saving their purchase data for personalization. We know even the most basic amounts of personalization boost sales; Coca-Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign — which printed names on bottles — saw a boost in their US sales for the first time in over a decade.

Analytics and engagement platforms like Jogogo can get you there.

With a platform like Jogogo, your visitors are prompted to share their data with you when they check in to your wifi. In return, you serve them with personalized greetings and deals, one-on-one engagements, and smart purchase history data that serves them better. The data they voluntarily share allows companies to create better experiences.

The brick-and-mortar landscape is changing. Instead of fear, embrace the excitement of looking ahead. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel — but you do get to innovate how you’re currently working.

In an era of change, innovation, and invention, what could be more exciting?