Is Brick and Mortar Retail Actually Dying?

Is Brick and Mortar Retail Actually Dying?
September 5, 2017 Wajahat Pasha

Is Brick and Mortar Retail Actually Dying?

Is Brick and Mortar Retail Actually Dying

Suppose you want to know if retail is actually dying, all you have to do is simply follow the money. And you will come to find that the money is in commercial real estate.

To get a better grasp on what’s really going on, start listening to people who are currently running the multi-billion dollar commercial real estate funds, because that’s where the money is flowing to and from!

These funds invest hundreds of millions of dollars into buying and developing new brick and mortar retail outlets.

If retail is in fact dying, then their funds would definitely be in grim circumstances due to high number of vacancies. Wouldn’t they? Their rental income would be shrinking and therefore they would have stopped constructing new shopping centers and retail outlets….right? Exactly!

What’s Old Is New Again

Around early 2013 it was eminent that book stores would make a prominent reappearance in malls.

Amazon, the company that put all the bookstores out of business, opened its first bookstore in November 2015. As of 2017, Amazon Books has a total of eight stores, with plans to open six more!

And the internet is still impacting them on a day to day, month to month and year to year basis.

So What’s Really Going on With Retail Stores?

Amazon continues to rule over the market and some companies closing down stores, from Arial view it may look like brick and mortar retail is slowly becoming extinct.

But the best manner to reflect on and process what’s going on with retail currently would be to compare it to the pruning of a rose bush.

Imagine you would (as while pruning a rose bush) prune everything back to stimulate future growth. For example If you observe the top most brands in the world, they are closing down marginal stores and they are building much bigger ones!

But even as a generous population of the world has joined the world of eCommerce, and with that number growing each year, the benefits of brick-and-mortar stores are still widely appreciated.

And with all things being equally evaluated, the majority of the population prefers buying from physical stores to buying online.

Most of the leading companies in the world add a lifestyle component to their centers where friends and family come together to shop, drink coffee, eat a meal or go bowling.

You simply can not get any of that on Amazon.com or online.

It’s Not an ‘Either / Or’ Debate!

Everything, as you can clearly see, is moving to mobile. However people are not just sitting at home, surfing the internet and shopping, with roughly 70% of customers who go online to research a product, and then go buy it at a Mall! Thus it can be said that technology and the physical world are beginning to merge everywhere.

Most of the online companies like Amazon are starting to understand the value of brick and mortar presence. In fact most of these companies have openly stated that they need this physical presence. Thus the closing down of smaller stores is quite common, with much larger flagship stores opening up and becoming much more profitable.

What all of these companies have noticed is that incremental stores in most areas are closing down and they are gaining an abundant concentration of retailers. The rest of the consumers are being taken care of through the online sales channel.

You can also compare it to banking as the same thing has been seen before in banking whilst remembering the time that all branches would close. It’s a two sided business. It’s not an either or situation. You definitely have to take both the online world and the physical world together in coalescence.

4 Concrete Email Marketing Strategies Retailers Can Use to Get People Buying in Store

Email marketing today is still all about sending well timed and relevant emails to the right people at the right time.

You can do that by sending lifecycle emails, targeted to specific customers at crucial points in their journey.

If your customers are using both online and offline methods to purchase a product, the focus should still be on sending them emails at the right moments.

This should be a combination of:

Triggered emails get sent to specific individuals taking specific actions when they’re browsing over the internet such as making their first purchase, or if they ultimately stopped purchasing.

Merging online and in store customer activity is the key ingredient needed to gain a deeper understanding of your customers.

Here are four strategies retailers could use:

1) Send email newsletters late in the week and on Saturday mornings to drive customers into your store

Visiting a brick and mortar retail location is another vital part of the customer’s journey. The question is when exactly do most customers visit retail locations. It has been observed to generally be in the evenings during the later part of a week (Thursday / Friday) or on weekends with friends and family.

If you want to drive in-store visits, email newsletters sent late in the week or on Saturday morning in your customer’s respective time zone with a special offer for purchases made in-store that weekend can help drive more customers into your store.

2) Send another abandoned cart email that drives abandoners into your physical retail store (not back to their online cart)

Abandoned cart emails do a great job at recovering sales from cart abandoners, however they do not succeed in recovering sales from each and every customer.

Using online browsing behavior we can track cart abandoners and send them abandoned cart emails. For people that do not convert online after receiving multiple emails, we can add an additional email onto their abandoned cart series based on a zip code or state with the main focus being on driving them into a local store.

3) Capturing email addresses at the point of sale

Every individual that visits your retail store and makes a purchase isn’t always on your email list. Capturing the email address of this group of customers is the unifying key that allows us to build a complete picture of a customer’s journey.

Make it as easy as possible for in-store purchasers to sign up for your email newsletter in-store. This can be as simple as having a notebook and a pen on the counter to capture the user’s email address OR capturing an email for a receipt.

Once you have their email address and know exactly how they make purchases in store, you can use that to power what is known as triggered email marketing.

Here’s a few ways in which you can properly utilize that data:

  • If they have just made their first purchase: Attach their email address to a new customer welcome email series.
  • If they have just spent $1000+: Include them in the “VIP campaign” that invites them to future in store private events.
  • If they have purchased a replenishable product such as a food item or face cream: Add them to the replenishment campaign that will automatically ask them if they would like to ‘restock’ that product in 40 days. And you could also provide them with free shipping so they don’t need to worry about coming to pick it up.

4) Using email as means of in-store marketing attribution

Email attribution is an intricate subject, especially when you throw visiting brick and mortar locations into the concoction.

People still cut out coupons and bring them into retail locations. The inbox can be used in the same way for programs like the one mentioned above.

“Near a local store? Print this email or show the email on your mobile device in-store for a special offer!” This bridges the gap in terms of understanding how the digital world can effectively influence in-store purchasing behaviors.

Conclusion

So back to the main question at hand, is brick and mortar retail actually dying? I don’t think so, far from it, as it might even flourish in unimaginable proportions with the added help of the online world. With the online and offline worlds merging together, retailers have to focus on unifying their email marketing strategy to gauge a more complete and elaborate picture of how customers interact with their brands both online and in store. Thus your main focus should be on using email marketing to drive customers in store and also remember to use in store purchases to capture email addresses and drive more sales online.

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