After my last post about what’s working in retail this year, I had a conversation with Euclid (a client) about how specific store initiatives are being launched by companies at different points in their lifecycles.
Sometimes, stores are a turnaround weapon on a seemingly-digital battleground.
In this podcast, Best Buy’s chief digital officer talked about combining physical infrastructure with digital innovation. He talks about compelling store visitors to use the Best Buy app while shopping, how stores are configured for online order pickup now that their inventory is being leveraged for that purpose, and why he’s happy for stores to be showrooms featuring “blue shirts” who can be a sounding board for online research a visitor has done.
This theme extends to luxury, where Coach opened a flagship late last year to position the brand as being higher-end than the accessible luxury for which it became known. The store experience includes an on-site craftsman who can offer monogram and bespoke customization. This is part of a strategy that’s driven Coach’s quarterly sales gains even while closing less strategic stores.
Of course, stores are about growth; not just turnarounds.
We know off-price chains continue to open stores. Alongside sharp e-commerce growth, Ulta sees the value in opening more stores. And Sephora recently opened its biggest store yet. It’s experiential, high-tech, and likely to result in in-store purchases (and hopefully, eventually, online ones, too).
So many start-ups born online have embarked on ambitious store-opening strategies that there are lists to keep track of them. Last month, a Co-CEO of one of them, Warby Parker, said e-commerce is growing more slowly than he anticipated and e-commerce alone can only reach 3% of his target market.
All of this was a relevant conversation for me to have had with the team at Euclid because of the work their technology is doing to turn store visitors into buyers – regardless of whether the purchase ultimately happens in a store or online. It’s hard to imagine why a retailer today wouldn’t want to have stores and learn more about who’s in them for marketing purposes.
I’m still a fan of stores that play a brand-building purpose and aren’t measured to death. Where even simple data do exist, we can see store visitors make a subsequent purchase sooner than non-visitors. I’m looking forward to a soon-to-come era when a greater number of retailers recognize and more proactively leverage stores’ role in marketing and the path-to-purchase.