It shocks most millennials to learn that only about 10 % of retail purchases are in reality made online. Each semester, when I ask hundreds of undergraduate business students to calculate, they persistently guess that from a quarter and 50 % of all retail spending happens on the internet. But this storeholidayhours, as ever in the past, the overwhelming majority of purchases will still happen within four physical walls of a store.
This ought to let the thousands of retailers anchored in strip malls, lifestyle centers and mixed use developments. The National Retail Federation expects holiday retail sales – not counting car, gas and restaurant purchases – in November and December this season to improve as much as 4 percent over last year, to just as much as US$682 billion.
Stores will be needing the cash in order to avoid being included in 2017’s record-breaking roster of retail bankruptcies, store closures and layoffs, which included landmark brands like Toys R Us and RadioShack.
Traditional retailers must give consumers excellent reasons to visit their stores, beyond product selection and good value. Joe Pine and James Gilmore’s 1999 book “The Experience Economy” foretold how savvy companies, like Apple and American Girl, excel by staging compelling experiences that teach, entertain or inspire customers.
The main asset of any physical store in a digital world is human staffing. Even when a shopper doesn’t want help, a smile acknowledging his or her presence encourages connection. Front-line employees can ask customers about their kids, in-laws or Thanksgiving meal planning. That can lead to a realistic personal connection through which employees can discover a shopper’s unique wants and respond with products on the shelves, or ordered and shipped at no cost to the customer’s home. An Thanksgiving opening hours can become a seamless combination of the internet and physical worlds.
Even Walmart, America’s largest retailer, is moving to a more experiential model. In hopes of boosting sales, its 4,700 stores will host 20,000 parties with Santa ahead of the New Year. Customers can take pictures, test out toys and obtain tots excited.
The business has an additional benefit over online sellers, too: nine in 10 Americans live within a quarter-hour of any Walmart store. Thousands of Walmarts now let customers drive up to the storefront to grab online grocery orders within 24 hours they’re purchased, at no additional charge. That rivals Amazon’s Fresh grocery service, which will come with an extra expense and zhoqce doesn’t deliver until the very next day.
Beyond face-to-face service, successful companies today must create a deeper relationship with their potential customers, whether online or off. Store-based retailers can present their values in ways that sometimes can take on the very personal meaning for shoppers and store owners alike. I have been a loyal customer of Gallery Furniture in Houston for years. Owner Jim McIngvale, called “Mattress Mack,” is really a marketing maverick noted for his decades of zany TV commercials pledging to “Save serious cash!”
Right after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, he opened his stores to anyone needing accommodations. Some came by boat, with just the clothes they were wearing. McIngvale welcomed thousands of What time does does stores open on sunday to rest on his inventory of mattresses. He sheltered, fed and prayed for flood victims. On Halloween, McIngvale flew 50 first responders to Game 6 around the world Series in Los Angeles, giving those lucky Astros fans a once-in-a-lifetime experience and emotional lift within the wake of natural disaster.