Navigating The Future of Brick-and-Mortars

When the largest Internet-based retailer goes brick-and-mortar it raises more than a few eyebrows. In December 2016, Amazon announced Amazon Go, a grocery store where customers can grab what they need from the shelves and pay with the retailer app, eliminating traditional registers or check-outs. And on Monday, January 22nd this test concept finally opened to the public. 

Amazon's investment in the retail brick-and-mortar space has caused many to wonder how this will affect brick-and-mortars?

A Shift in Roles

Destination CRM surveyed US consumers and found that 73% of customers expect customer service to be easier and more convenient than it currently is. Many retailers are quick to assume that eCommerce is the easier and more convenient solution that consumers are looking for. But providing a consistent, positive customer experience is nuanced and calls for a multichannel approach, one that involves the physical in-store experience and accompanying digital channels.

And consumers are looking for that. In the same study, 83% of those surveyed prefer human beings over digital channels when it comes to solving customer service issues. Retail staffs' roles will evolve to meet the needs of speed, convenience, and seamlessness.

Amazon Go is a prime example of how roles will be shifted in the wake of advanced retail technology. Amazon says to The New York Times, “We’ve just put associates on different kinds of tasks where we think it adds to the customer experience." These roles include helping customers troubleshoot technology, helping them find items in the store, and restocking.

Marriage of Clicks and Bricks

The experience of a physical store is difficult to digitally recreate. But ignoring the trends of the digital society is costly. Thus, understanding the value of both and implementing an integrated shopping experience is the key to merchant's success.

Physical stores need to be tech-savvy in order to have a seamless and efficient operation. In addition to providing offerings online, through website and social media, physical stores need to remain technically adept in-store. As digital natives continue to make up more of the population, there is now an expectation for instant, convenient, and accessible service. Outfitting your store with iPad POS System technology will make stores more relevant, providing a way for customers to find the thing they want with the utmost ease.  

An omni-channel approach enables customers to receive alerts when there are promotions on their favorite items, shop online and pickup in-store, and retailers can market and engage through social media as well as leverage data to improve their bottom line.

While the opening of Amazon Go has put a spotlight on the value of physical stores, it has also put pressure on the brick-and-mortar industry to pay attention to the latest innovations in the industry in order to stay competitive.