Strategizing The Future Of Brick-And-Mortar Retail

Originally published in Independent Retailer

by Charlie Meyer

It might be the understatement of the century to say that market conditions have not been ideal or kind to many businesses over the past two years. Brick-and-mortar retail faced some of the harshest conditions in recent memory, and with so many bankruptcies and closures, some wonder whether there is a future at all for in-store shopping.  

Competing with Online Shopping

Ecommerce offers convenience: shoppers can filter stock to suit their needs, check out with the click of a button, and then have their purchase in-hand within the week. To compete with that, in-store shopping has to offer experience and culture. Online shoppers use filters to comb through a mass of stock, but in-person approaches that harness the power of merchandising can be even more effective. By utilizing physical space to take a customer on a journey, a marketing message can be more resonant.  

Beyond ensuring that floorspace is well merchandized and cleanly presented, the most successful retail companies today are often renowned for their superior customer service. These days, shoppers have a range of preferences for their in-store experience and expect to be catered to across the spectrum. Customers vary from embodying the high-touch persona who is eager for personalized recommendations and plenty of feedback, to the low-touch individuals who bristle at anything more than a welcome at the door. It is up to staff to make assessments sometimes based on nothing but body language indicators. 

Hire Enthusiastic Employees to Encourage In-Store Shopping

In order to cultivate a staff capable of providing varied and customized shopping experiences, a company’s hiring practices have to be effective. When developing best practices for hiring, it is important to be in touch with what the day-to-day activities look like for employees in any given store. Incorporating live demonstrations to get a sense of a candidate’s ability will go a long way in building an ideal workforce. 

It is equally important to retain exceptional employees. There are clear trends when measuring employee engagement and satisfaction. Employees crave work-life balance and relish opportunities to be recognized and developed. Young employees especially want their place of work to share their values. One sure-fire way to increase the desirability of any storefront as a place to work is by demonstrating how the stores might be a pipeline to further opportunities in the wider company. Ensuring that brick-and-mortar locations are places of opportunity and appreciation for employees will create a culture of reciprocity with patrons.  

The end of brick-and-mortar is far from an inevitability, but businesses need to give real thought into creating a strategy where their physical spaces are innovative, there is integration between online and in-store experiences, and where employee engagement is high. In creating a strategy that addresses those realities, the reward is sure to follow.  

Charlie is the Senior VP of Sales and leads the North American sales team atQLess. With more than 20 years of sales leadership experience in enterprise and SaaS software, Charlie brings a wealth of sales and leadership guidance to the growing company and market.