Requiem for Retail — or Reinvention?

As if any more evidence was needed that the brick-and-mortar behemoths that dominated yesteryear’s retail landscape are going through tough times, it looks like 2017 is going to be another record setting year for the struggling giants — but only when it comes to store closures and money thrown at digital teams to optimize the eCommerce experience.

Damaged escalators in abandoned shopping mall in Bangkok — soon to come to the US?

Closing unprofitable stores and playing catch up with the online shopping pioneers might be a tempting band-aid to hold onto if you’re a big retail executive with anxious share holders breathing down your neck, but at the end of the day, is this the kind of battle you can win?

Jeff Bezos is building a business based on his confidence that consumers will always prefer speedy shipping and lower prices to the alternative — so far it’s paid off for him to invest in low prices and fast delivery. Does this mean every other retailer should try to beat Amazon at their own game?

Drones are here. Let’s explore the alternatives to an arms race with Amazon’s delivery infrastructure.

What might a brave retail executive encourage his team to put the focus on in this quest to fend off the ultimate existential threat?

Why the imitation game is bound to fail

Traditional retailers find themselves torn between their efforts of emulating the ease of online shopping and building on their core value proposition.

Brick-and-Mortar can’t compete when it comes to ease of transacting online. What’s old school retail’s unique value prop?

An example are the millions invested into express- and self-checkout lanes. All to save the customer a precious minute or two and minimize interactions with employees at the store.

Amazon and Walmart put their emphasis on lowest price and friction-less shopping because they relate to customers as rational agents operating under conditions of scarcity, specifically when it comes to money and time.

With two category leaders setting the frame of customers being economical with their time and money, the world of retail provides the kind of environment where low emotional engagement strategies have become the norm and accepted as status quo.

Be the source of meaningful moments

It’s doubtful that people who choose to shop in traditional stores desire the same type of impersonal shopping experience that’s available at arm’s reach from the comfort of their sofa, be it via smart phone, tablet or other device.

What is the consumer most likely dreaming about when spending time at the store? Whether they’re looking at the labels on personal care products or picking the perfect Avocado, chances are that they’re day dreaming about dinner plans with a date, going to the lake with friends or family, an upcoming football match or a movie they’re planning to go see or any other kind of activity.

People tend to spend a significant amount of time thinking about what to do together with their loved ones or making plans to engage in activities they are passionate about. It’s a deeply rooted human quality to cherish connections with fellow men and women.

Case in point, food courts generate up to 30% of revenue in malls across America, not because the food is great — but because it serves as the hub for experiencing connection with your peers.

Imagine what might be possible for your stores if your company were acting as a source of adventure, fun and connection for your customers both during and between shopping trips?

Harness the power of passion

There is a great opportunity in associating the shopping experience at your store with the lifestyle that your customers have a passion for. This technique is particularly effective when packaged as a reward’s promotion tied to measurable KPIs that ensure the gift with purchase drives profitable growth.

TLC Marketing specializes in helping brands entice their customers with travel, leisure or lifestyle experiences — all available throughout the communities that your customers live, shop and play in — and more cost effective than temporary price reductions, coupons or other discounts.

Contact today to request additional information on how to apply this approach in your business!

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