Macy’s, the largest department store in the Unites States, recently announced that it will be closing 100 of its locations over the next year. The closures represent almost 15% of its locations and will leave Macy’s with 628 stores across the country. While the number of closures comes as a shock, the news itself is not unexpected given similar announcements that have been made by the likes of The Gap, Sears, Target and many others recently.
As people increasingly embrace online shopping, choose to spend money on experiences instead of things and view malls as boring instead of fun places to socialize – it’s hard to deny that bricks and mortar retailers are struggling and will continue to do so unless they adopt to the changing retail climate. In that regard, here are 3 things they can immediately address to remain competitive.
1. Focus on the in-store customer experience
Physical retailers have a huge competitive advantage over e-tailers like Amazon. They’re able to interact with customers in person and that experience and connection with a customer simply cannot be matched online. Unfortunately, most retailers don’t take full advantage of this unique opportunity to foster meaningful relationships with their customers. Brands need to make better use of their in-store staff to acquire and retain more loyal customers. Sometimes all it takes is something as simple as greeting the customer by their name or remembering their preferences – all things that can be implemented with existing technology that more progressive retailers are already leveraging.
2. Seamlessly connect e-commerce and physical shopping
You can’t stop customers from being drawn to the option of shopping from the comfort of their PJ’s, whenever and wherever they want. It’s convenient and ensures that they don’t have to deal with the pain points of shopping in-store such as commuting, dealing with a crowd, waiting around for a staff member to look up inventory, long lines to make a purchase etc. That said, shopping in-store is still the preferred method for most customers. The in-store experience allows them to touch and feel a product, connect with people in person and have instant gratification. By implementing a better in-store experience (things like hands free payments can make the lengthy transaction process obsolete) and allowing customers to order online and come in person to enjoy a social brand experience while picking up their items – bricks and mortar retailers can get to a point where they’re not forced to focus the in-store or e-store, both experiences can be merged seamlessly using innovative technology.
3. Create brand moments
While customers do prefer to shop in-store, this may not always be the case. In order to keep them engaged with the in-store experience, brands can surprise and delight customers during their visits with personalized/real-time offers and promotions which make their day. If you’re a department store like Macy’s, it could be something as simple as letting a customer know that the brand of jeans that they usually buy would like to give them a free credit for being a loyal customer- a message that can be delivered by a real person in-store instead of a text or e-mail (helping brands create these types of moments is one of Lucova’s core product offerings).