It shocks most millennials to find out that just about 10 % of all retail buys are in fact made online. Each semester, when I ask numerous undergraduate business students to calculate, they consistently reckon that from a quarter and half of all retail spending happens on the internet. But this New Years Eve store closing and opening hours, as ever before, the overwhelming greater part of purchases will still happen within four physical walls of a store.
This ought to let the thousands of retailers anchored in strip malls, lifestyle centers and mixed use developments. The National Retail Federation expects holiday retail sales – not counting car, gas and restaurant purchases – in November and December this coming year to improve approximately 4 percent over a year ago, to around US$682 billion.
Stores will be needing the amount of money in order to avoid being added to 2017’s record-breaking roster of retail bankruptcies, store closures and layoffs, which included landmark brands like Toys R Us and RadioShack.
Traditional retailers must give consumers excellent reasons to visit their stores, beyond product selection and value. Joe Pine and James Gilmore’s 1999 book “The Experience Economy” foretold how savvy companies, like Apple and American Girl, excel by staging compelling experiences that teach, entertain or inspire customers.
The primary asset of the physical store in a digital world is human staffing. Even if a shopper doesn’t want help, a smile acknowledging his or her presence encourages connection. Front-line employees can ask customers about their kids, in-laws or Thanksgiving meal planning. That can result in an authentic personal connection whereby employees can locate a shopper’s unique wants and respond with products on the shelves, or ordered and shipped at no cost for the customer’s home. An Saturday opening hours can become a seamless combination of the online and physical worlds.
Even Walmart, America’s largest retailer, is moving to your more experiential model. In hopes of boosting sales, its 4,700 stores will host 20,000 parties with Santa prior to the New Year. Customers can take pictures, test out toys and obtain tots excited.
The company has another advantage over online sellers, too: nine in 10 Americans live within 15 minutes of a Walmart store. Thousands of Walmarts now let customers drive up to the storefront to pick up online grocery orders within 24 hours they’re purchased, at no additional charge. That rivals Amazon’s Fresh grocery service, which will come in an extra cost and zhoqce doesn’t deliver until the next day.
Beyond face-to-face service, successful companies today must establish a deeper relationship with their customers, whether online or off. Store-based retailers can show their values in ways that at times will take on the very personal meaning for shoppers and store owners alike. I have been a loyal customer of Gallery Furniture in Houston for many years. Owner Jim McIngvale, called “Mattress Mack,” is really a marketing maverick noted for his decades of zany TV commercials pledging to “Save serious cash!”
Right after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, he opened his stores to anyone looking for a place to stay. Some came by boat, with only the clothes these people were wearing. McIngvale welcomed 1000s of Holiday hours to sleep on his inventory of mattresses. He sheltered, fed and prayed for flood victims. On Halloween, McIngvale flew 50 first responders to Game 6 of the World Series in La, giving those lucky Astros fans a once-in-a-lifetime experience and emotional lift inside the wake of natural disaster.