The retail environment has seen many changes over the past two years. Having discovered that “traditional” management tools have become less relevant, brands have been forced to rethink their processes in order to survive, stay relevant and stay loyal to their audiences.
During and after the pandemic, retail formats have changed on several levels. On the one hand, operational changes and on the other hand, changes linked to the user experience. If experience has become an integral part of brand strategy, it’s because brands are more customer-focused than ever. Within the context of Omni channels, retail formats have also undergone significant development and have become more responsive to the retail environment and customers. Physical retail has recovered its splendor and has taken its rightful place alongside other retail formats such as digital or the metaverse.
As consumption becomes less about the product and more about the experience of accessing the product, new brand management practices are taking shape, whether at the luxury or mass consumption industry level. Bands are looking for ways to add value to the customer journey within their spheres.
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With physical touch points, they seek to offer “real life experiences” by paying attention to the store’s atmosphere and exterior environmental designs. In addition, brands are refocusing on the “human” variable and rehumanizing physical commerce. The online user experience is evolving and moving closer to the delivery of information queries and/or hyper-simplified transaction processes. In addition to perfecting the management of each brand touch point, it is the links that matter most in an omnichannel context. Brands ensure a frictionless journey “to and from”, at any time, from any place and through any device or touch point.
Recognize the power of technology
Technology has opened up endless opportunities for brands to connect and get in touch with their audiences. This connection goes beyond giving access to the online environment; gather, close the gap and pave the way for further interactions. With current retail management practices, brands are focused on making digital experiences more physical. They embrace digital tools, such as in-store augmentation, to provide customers with product support, if needed, through apps or digital technologies.
Brands are also investing in social platforms to offer more frequent live streaming sessions. They have legitimized one-to-one sales through social and/or mobile applications. Many brands have gone a step further and focused on customer services to offer personalized experiences. In conclusion, the brands that aimed to invest more in the social variable have replicated the experience of buying with friends through devices, such as group purchases and group purchases.
Retail formats in an omnichannel context ensure a seamless experience
In an omnichannel retail environment, each retail format becomes an active contributor to a positive customer experience. In this context, the functionalities of the different commercial formats are enhanced, technologies are integrated and their management is reconsidered. In addition, marketing and communication strategies are put at the service of the “set“, thus contributing to offer a perfect experience.
To enable real-time inventory management, brands include RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags. They can easily trace their product back to the store and then to consumers. To enhance the in-store shopping experience and make it easier for customers to make in-store purchases, retailers integrate cashierless checkouts. In other cases, retailers have opted for WIWO (Walk-in-walk-out) technologies, which removes the expectation of paying in stores. Retailers also install sensors around certain products or spaces that automatically send discounts to smartphone customers through the store’s app. They offer personalized and hyper-personalized suggestions or offers. A seamless shopping experience is a lot like weaving all of your brand touchpoints into a single fabric. With their mobile phones (or smartphones), customers connect all online and offline touch points and establish their relationship with the brand.
A variety of shapes and formats.
Physical stores are increasingly becoming a target format, designed to address a specific brand goal in an omnichannel environment. Physical retail formats are now used for everything from product access to service and experience. Many physical stores continue to be direct access points to the product, others incorporate aesthetics and experience, and some are merely informational. Some brick-and-mortar retail formats that are highly relevant to the real-world retail environment include demo stores, rental stores, repair shops, pop-up stores, and neighborhood stores.
No products are sold in a demo store. The offer is made available to the customer for examination or testing, then the customer would receive his order at the desired address. Rental platforms for individuals are already available, as well as those that cover the needs of professionals. But few initiatives launched by conventional stores aim to meet the specific needs of each customer. And with the rise of the circular economy, the second-hand market has expanded; it has encouraged brands to repair and resell items returned to them. Pop-up store adoption is great for testing and experiencing the brand. More importantly, pop-up stores are perfect for bridging the distance between brands and customers, and for creating more interactions. Finally, the shops around the corner are those located in close proximity. These small urban stores bring hyperstores closer.
This is just proof that physical retail is not dead; is stronger than ever. To be most efficient, physical retail must have a clear purpose within the overall brand touchpoints. In addition, it should be able to unite the physical with the digital of the brand’s spheres. In today’s retail environment, the physical store continues to provide an important platform for everyday togetherness and togetherness.
Involving the senses
In the context of the digital revolution, physical retail formats continue to be key to providing sensory and engaging shopping experiences. More importantly, they are a means of expression and allow social interactions (brand/client and client/client). More recently, many brick-and-mortar stores are in broadcast studios, and the customers are a crowd. Brand-client relationships transcend the physical sphere to grow online or outside of the transactional pattern of brands.
Store design is becoming more theatrical, aiming to create moments that cannot be reproduced online. Store design in the direction of a multi-sensory atmosphere provides shoppers with relevant experiences. It also allows them to immerse themselves and get involved, in the atmosphere of detail, with their five senses. More importantly, these investments are aimed at simplifying or oversimplifying the customer relationship. Through physical retail environments, the brand integrates its customers into its rituals and invites them to become involved in the brand’s culture.
What lessons can be learned?
Today’s brand management succeeds when it creates and delivers exceptional customer experiences, connects customers with the brand’s universe, and ultimately shares knowledge about their culture and traditions with them. In an omnichannel retail environment, high-end and low-end brands must keep customers at the center of their distribution and communication strategies.
- Retailers invest in the atmosphere of the physical store.
- Retailers implement digital transformation plans designed to create a richer experience for consumers.
- Retailers give customers space and allow them instant gratification.
- Retailers are reinjecting the social dimension into their physical and digital environment: the availability of knowledgeable and friendly store staff is the most important factor in creating an enjoyable experience.
- Services and/or practices related to sustainability positively influence customers’ decision to visit a physical store: repairs, rentals and complementary services.
- To service “today’s economy,” retailers are encouraged to look at how they can use their physical store property to add functionality such as click and collect, ship from store, buy now, pay later options, and in-store returns. store.
- Physical retail environments must become places of expression and transcend the mere function of shopping.