Reinvigorating brick-and-mortar in the age of Amazon

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Whether it’s back-to-school season or holiday shopping, retailers are struggling in the fast-evolving retail landscape. Lauren Anderson, Director of Shopper Marketing at Blis, outlines steps retailers can take to reinvigorate brick-and-mortar and remain relevant in an age of personalized shopping, DTC and Amazon.  

Summer is coming to an end, which means back-to-school season is in full swing. The National Retail Federation estimates that families with children from elementary school to high school will spend a record-breaking average of $697 leading up to the start of school. Another interesting finding from Deloitte revealed that around 57% of back-to-school purchases takes place in-store. And, despite living in the Amazon era where everything and anything can be easily purchased online with the click of a button, a new report also found that big-box retailers like Kohl’s, Target and Walmart remain the top choices for back-to-school shopping.

This preference for shopping in-store for the back-to-school season proves that there’s still room for brick-and-mortar in a world where e-commerce has exploded and a new generation of online-savvy shoppers have emerged. So, what does this mean for traditional retailers hoping to appeal to the omni-channel shopper who doesn’t express a particular affinity for purchasing online versus in-store? And what can legacy retailers learn from back-to-school shoppers about building foot traffic that will apply to the fast-approaching holiday season?

Leaning Into Mobile-First Strategies Can Actually Lead to Increased Foot Traffic In-Store

We’ve seen the headlines about legacy retailers struggling to build in-store traffic and ultimately shuttering locations. But our research showed that 25% of consumers are likely to move from online shopping to in-store to make a purchase. So, if marketers can persuade customers browsing on their mobile devices to purchase items at their retailer in close-to-real-time, they can increase the likelihood of bringing that shopper in-store. This will lead to increased foot traffic and yield more positive business outcomes.

For marketers to meet the quickly evolving needs of savvy omni-shoppers, they’ll need to develop robust mobile and e-commerce offerings along with the convenient, easy-to-use and fast experience that today’s consumer has become accustomed to. This means a seamless shopping experience from online to in-store with offerings like in-store pick-up, and vice-versa, with additional home delivery options. Another key element to this can include promotional offers only available in-store.

How Kohl’s Is Setting the Stage and Appealing to Today’s Omni-Shopper With Partnerships

Retailers are starting to seek out partnerships that encourage a more omnichannel-friendly shopping experience for consumers. Kohl’s is one retailer in particular that is excelling in this department, striking deals with Planet Fitness and Aldi supermarkets by subletting free space in these physical locations for additional inventory. Further, Planet Fitness members have access to an expanded selection of products from brands including Fitbit and Under Armour – a true win-win for all parties.

To appeal to a digitally-native audience, Kohl’s also teamed up with Amazon to offer in-store product pick-up and returns at a selection of stores. This brings more foot traffic in-store for Kohl’s, which enables them to reach an audience who may not typically shop with them. The retailer also offers an expanded selection of Amazon products – a great opportunity to expose a potentially e-commerce-shy audience to what Amazon has to offer. With the success that Amazon has had with back-to-school sales, this presents a great opportunity for Kohl’s to get in on the fun (and profits). It’s a true success story – proving that there is still room for brick-and-mortar in an increasingly digital world.

Adapting to the Changing Consumer and Their Evolving Shopping Habits

It’s not just parents that are doing the back-to-school shopping. With the internet, adolescents have become frequent buyers themselves, and with the ability to purchase anything you need with a quick search and one-click, it’s become easier than ever for a new generation of buyers to be exposed to retail offerings. This will require marketers to adapt their strategies to align with the interests of a younger audience, many of whom have shorter attention spans and are glued to their mobile devices. With this in mind, a digital-first strategy will be key and a partnership with an online influencer or YouTube star could be just the type of engaging content that will lead to a purchase.

The retailers that want to stay ahead during high-volume shopping periods are going to need to adapt to changing consumer shopping habits and expectations. And in today’s complicated retail landscape, driving foot traffic in-store and finding innovative ways to create a seamless omnichannel experience will be the only way to keep their doors open. Taking a cue from some of these big-box retailers during back-to-school season may be the ticket leading up to the larger-scale holiday shopping season.

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