It surprises most millennials to understand that only about 10 percent of all retail purchases are in fact made online. Each semester, when I ask countless undergraduate business students to estimate, they persistently guess that from a quarter and one half of all retail spending happens on the internet. But this closing hours, as ever previously, the overwhelming majority of purchases will still happen within four physical walls of a store.
This should let the a large number 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 increase approximately 4 percent over last year, to as much as US$682 billion.
Stores will be needing the cash to prevent being included in 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 good 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 main asset of any physical store in a digital world is human staffing. Even though a shopper doesn’t want help, a grin acknowledging her or his presence encourages connection. Front-line employees can ask customers about their kids, in-laws or Thanksgiving meal planning. That can cause an authentic personal connection whereby employees can discover a shopper’s unique wants and respond with products on the shelves, or ordered and shipped for free to the customer’s home. An Independence Day opening times may become a seamless blend of the online and physical worlds.
Even Walmart, America’s largest retailer, is moving to a more experiential model. In hopes of boosting sales, its 4,700 stores will host 20,000 parties with Santa before the New Year. Customers can take pictures, try out toys and acquire tots excited.
The company has an additional benefit over online sellers, too: nine in 10 Americans live within 15 minutes of the Walmart store. Thousands of Walmarts now let customers drive as much as the storefront to grab online grocery orders the same day they’re purchased, at no additional charge. That rivals Amazon’s Fresh grocery service, which will come in an extra expense and zhoqce doesn’t deliver until the very next day.
Beyond face-to-face service, successful companies today must develop a deeper connection with their clients, whether online or off. Store-based retailers can display their values in such a way that sometimes can take on a very personal meaning for shoppers and store owners alike. I actually have been a loyal customer of Gallery Furniture in Houston for a long time. Owner Jim McIngvale, called “Mattress Mack,” is actually a marketing maverick noted for his decades of zany TV commercials pledging to “Save you money!”
Right after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, he opened his stores to anyone needing a place to stay. Some came by boat, with merely the clothes these people were wearing. McIngvale welcomed thousands of Memorial Day store hours to rest on his inventory of mattresses. He sheltered, fed and prayed for flood victims. On Halloween, McIngvale flew 50 first responders to Game 6 around the world Series in La, giving those lucky Astros fans a once-in-a-lifetime experience and emotional lift in the wake of natural disaster.