Last Thursday, the Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association (MIMA) put together a “Meetup”, a series in which leaders in the marketing and advertising industry share their knowledge and insight on the digital world. The topic? What is in the Store of the Future? A Conversation About Omni-Channel Retail Innovation. The speakers consisted of leaders from the Target Corporation, including Chris Walton, Anne Mezzenga, and Rick Olson. After a short introduction, a few bagels, and chit chat the most obvious question was asked: “So what is the store of the future going to be like?” Here were our takeaways from the discussion:
Omni-channel marketing is essential
In the past, shoppers had to get into their car and drive to the store in order to pick up whatever they wanted or needed. Now, shopping is no longer a linear experience. It has grown with technology and evolved into providing whatever consumers need as soon as they want it, without even having to leave the house. We now have multifaceted technology platforms that allow us to shop whenever and wherever we like. Target, for example, allows its consumers to buy products online, on their mobile phones, or in the store itself. For a store to last in the future, it needs to provide an omni-channel shopping experience.
The SOTF is like a party
Walton, Target’s Vice President of Merchandising, jumped at the idea of sharing his detailed analogy to help us visualize what the Store of the Future will be like. He compared it to being like a small party, in which the guests are actually retailers that all bring something unique to the table. Ready for the guest list?
- Amazon, for their ever-growing ideas and membership option that allows consumers to get what they want in under two days.
- Starbucks, for its app that redefines customer service, letting users pay with their phone, skip the line, and earn free coffee.
- Bonobos, because of its one-of-a-kind business model that allows consumers to try on clothes in store, but not take them home. In return, free shipping is offered for those wanting to buy an item.
- IKEA, for its “work for it” attitude. You walk through the showroom, you find the pieces of the furniture, you load it into your car, and you assemble it at home. The advantage? The insanely low prices.
- A casino, for being one of the only places left that forces its consumers to get up and walk through its doors if you want what they offer.
In-store experiences will be important
Are the brick and mortar retailers doomed? Not exactly. According to Mezzenga, in-store experiences have a chance to save their physical stores. Retailers like Nordstrom and Martin Patrick are providing high-end in-store experiences that make their consumers feel cared for in a way that online has yet to provide. Nordstrom, the costly department store, offers a personal stylist, coffee bars, and seating areas for its guests. Although, these experiences are rarely found in low-end businesses.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint
While changing up the business model and re-inventing store experiences sounds great, retailers must be cautious of their older, not-so tech savvy demographic that still clip coupons and solely shop in stores. It’s wise for the Store of the Future to roll out its ideas in a way that won’t push away Baby Boomers and early Gen X-ers. Slowly, but surely, dedicated shoppers will adjust to technology changes, but if they all of a sudden feel like they’re being displaced, they could ultimately cut off ties with a store forever.