By Jan Teague, President/CEO
The key to success for retailers today is a strong online presence with an interesting store to experience in person. Yes, online shopping gives consumers convenience, but it can’t replace the excitement of the store. In a recent survey conducted by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), the formula for retail success is having both formats available to shoppers. The term is omnichannel and it means selling using various approaches.
You really can’t beat going into a store for a look around at all the latest items. You can take family or friends, waste a bit of time wandering through the mall and walking into any number of stores to see the decorations or attend some type of store event. This social aspect of retail is not lost and in fact remains very strong.
Retailers have figured out how to be successful and it includes understanding what the consumer wants: free shipping and allowing the consumer to return the item to the store. It turns out that this customer service approach is the winning formula.
ICSC reports that when it comes to Millennials (age 18-36), stores are more stimulating than websites and that Millennials are more likely than other groups to spend additional money when going to a physical store to return items they bought online.
Is retail in trouble?
I think moving ahead, there will be ownership changes, consolidations, and more omnichannel approaches to sales. With the economy getting stronger, I see a strong retail climate ahead.