Retailers like RadioShack, JCPenney, Sears, and Staples are closing stores.
The logic is simple: as e-commerce becomes more popular, physical stores aren’t as profitable.
But by shuttering locations, stores are missing out on a big opportunity, Doug Stephens, founder of industry website Retail Prophet and author of “The Retail Revival: Re-Imagining Business for the New Age of Consumerism” writes in a recent blog post.
“The store allows the consumer to engage the brand, its products and its culture in a visceral and emotional way that simply cannot be replicated online,” Stephens writes. “Therefore, as more and more sales are attributed to mobile, social and online channels, the store’s strategic importance has to shift to delivering more powerful, galvanizing experiences that forge love and loyalty.”
Retailers should look for ways to turn underperforming stores into places where customers can have fun and interesting experiences, Stephens writes.
“If executed properly, I would argue that the physical store experience is most powerful form of media a brand has at its disposal,” he says.
For instance, retailers could incorporate showrooms, social-sharing, and product-testing.
The companies could also use stores to track consumer behaviour, Stephens writes.
“The era of the store as the primary distribution channel is rapidly coming to an end,” he writes. “The era of the store as media is upon us. Measure wisely.”
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