In a digital age where multi-channel players such as Tesco are claiming that pure players like Amazon have a commercial advantage, how can traditional bricks and mortar retailers keep up with their digital rivals?
No matter what your product mix, those who are thriving are those who are adapting their store formats, embracing technology and putting their shoppers’ path to purchase at the heart of their retail strategy.
Take B&Q as a prime example. This month it launched its first ever ‘GoodHome’ city centre store, stocking just 6,000 SKUs versus the 40,000 you’d find in a typical B&Q retail park store. A completely different shopper experience, the new store layout caters for both tradesman and eager home improvers.
For tradesman, GoodHome has been designed to act as a quick click & collect point, whilst offering the best of the B&Q back catalogue via digital screen ordering points. This functional approach caters to busy tradesman who want a quick, hassle free interaction.
This couldn’t be more different to the strategy deployed for home improvers. Mirroring the likes of IKEA and Made.com who have all recently opened city center ‘inspiration’ stores, B&Q have focused on ‘120 DIY Missions’. Here, shoppers can research, understand, seek advice and plan their ‘mission’ through to purchase. Store staff ‘enthusiasts’ are on hand to talk customers through projects, supported by an ‘animation station’ section of the store where touchscreen pads provide content, including ideas for decorating and how-to videos.
B&Q have therefore accepted that their customers’ path to purchase has evolved, and that their customers are not always prepared to make a dedicated trip to a retail park, and instead have brought DIY and inspiration to the high-street providing a whole new marketing opportunity for brands. These ‘inspiration’ stores offer brands the opportunity to partner with B&Q to inspire; focusing on end benefit over functional use of their products in a high-street environment.
And it’s not just home specialists that are adapting their paths to purchase to reflect their shoppers needs.
At the end of 2018, NIKE opened it’s ‘house of innovation’ in New York, looking to blur the lines between a digital and physical path to purchase.
This store is unashamedly all about data capture, encouraging shoppers to download the NIKE app and become NikePlus members from the moment you walk through the door. Once downloaded you get access to personalised products, store events and exclusive ‘unlocked’ products. What’s more, the app screams convenience as shoppers can also pay for their product through the app, scan QR codes for more product information or even order at shelf for the purchase to be ready at a collection point within minutes.
NIKE have therefore embraced technology, pushing the boundaries of traditional bricks and mortar retailing. By blurring the lines between digital and physical, Nike’s ability to capture shopper’s data will ensure they continue to be one step ahead when adapting their paths to purchase for future shoppers.
This ability to embrace change in shoppers' behaviours and create stress free experiences - can increase the need for stores to become destinations within the path to purchase.
Just this month, Next announced a partnership with Amazon where customers will be able to collect parcels from an ‘Amazon Counter’ in Next stores. With shoppers demanding convenience, more and more shoppers are choosing where to make their purchase based on ease of delivery (and collection). Next have embraced this by partnering up with a digital giant, welcoming Amazon customers into their stores and ultimately driving footfall. That footfall will be key for brand activations, offering the opportunity for brands to partner with Next to reach both Amazon and Next shoppers on some of the UK’s most popular high-streets. The partnership will be key as Next look at the incremental footfall opportunity to increase sales of both own label and branded products in-store.
Its therefore not about pure players versus traditional bricks & mortar retailers, its about the industry as a whole recognising shoppers’ evolving path to purchase. Adapting store formats, embracing technology and creating a need for shoppers to visit a store is key to retailers’ success in an ever increasingly competitive landscape.