The State of Brick and Mortar

We’ve all seen the images of shuttered malls across America – Gap Inc. is poised to close 75 stores this year, Macy’s is closing 40, and Wal-mart is shuttering 269 locations worldwide. But with the economy more or less recovered from the financial crisis of ’08, one has to wonder why traditional retailers are struggling. At the same time, some pure-play ecommerce retailers are opening brick and mortar locations due to demand from their customers. So why the contradiction?

Evolving Expectations

Customer values have changed, along with the way people use technology. When online sales started, it was a choice between going to a shop or sitting at home browsing and buying on your desktop. With the rise of smartphones, everywhere has become a store. People are shopping from the subway. They’re shopping at work. They’re shopping at Starbucks or while they’re out for drinks. People even use their phones to shop at a different retailer while they’re in your store.

The recession has also made some favor experiences over impulse purchases, and others (who still have disposable income) consider quality over quantity. People are also happy to shop online not only because technology has made it so easy, but they can also avoid the busy parking lot, traffic, and long lineups that come with mall or big box-type retailers. In exchange, they are left with more time for enjoyable experiences. These trends indicate that only in-store and online experiences that meet these new standards will succeed with customers.

The Winners

Thanks to the changing landscape, pure-play ecommerce companies like Casper, Warby Parker, and Bonobos have been able to grow rapidly, even to the point of opening storefronts or studios in select cities, because they’re in a unique position of not being tied to the ball-and-chain that is brick-and-mortar. At the same time, we’re not in a Netflix versus Blockbuster situation. Ecommerce growth has been slow but steady, giving traditional retailers a rare opportunity to reinvent themselves.

The cobbled together ecommerce site, operated as an online version of your brick and mortar, is a good first step, but it’s still not putting the customer experience first. Mobify can help brands collect and analyze data so they can offer customers the technology they want, as well as implement strategies to increase conversion rates on mobile through our mobile customer engagement platform.

Now, what to do with all this extra real estate?

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