Friday, March 16, 2018

Brick and Mortar Stores: Here’s How to Not End Up Like Toys R Us

I’ll never forget the excitement that accompanied an early November trip to Toys R Us. My parents would pile us into our minivan and let us run through those magic automatic doors, the entire store becoming our playground to test toys and see if they were good enough to make our Christmas list. But, thanks to Santa discovering a new little helper called Amazon, those trips quickly died out over the years. And it sounds like our family wasn’t the only one to ditch the afternoon toy store run, because Toys R Us is officially through, becoming yet another brick-and-mortar tombstone in the graveyard of companies that couldn’t outpace the online retail space. The toy store giant announced that it will be closing or selling about 800 of its U.S. stores, thanks in part to the rise of eCommerce and their billions of dollars in company debt.

It’s not the first time a brick-and-mortar establishment has succumbed to innovation shortcomings (Remember Borders? And Blockbuster?), and it certainly won’t be the last–with comScore reporting just this week that CPG and Toy were the top-gaining categories in digital commerce in Q4 2017. So, with eCommerce not dying down anytime soon, how can brick and mortar establishments entice today’s digitally-driven shoppers to pile in their minivans and get to the stores?

It’s Time for More Omnichannel Shopping Experiences
Brick and mortar establishments: this is your only chance for survival. In the digital age, consumers expect fast, convenient, compelling buying experiences–but, that isn’t to say they don’t appreciate and gravitate toward in-store shopping experiences, as well. In fact, a study was recently done on the shopping behavior of customers of a certain retailer. Upon reflecting on their purchase with the retailer, only seven percent of the shoppers said the journey toward their purchase was done strictly online, while 20 percent said their journey was solely in-store. Instead, 73 percent of shoppers said they used multiple channels during their shopping journey. The majority group said they used mobile apps, in-store price checkers, catalogues, and more to research in pre-purchase moments, then some ordered their product online and picked up in-store, ordered in-store to have it shipped to their house, purchased in-store…the combinations were endless. While there’s no clear pattern for how these omnichannel shoppers are getting from research to purchase and delivery, there is one very clear observation from this study: brick and mortar establishments need digital to survive.

Meeting Omnichannel Shoppers In-Store
Retailers are becoming aware of these omnichannel shopping tendencies and implementing in-store digital tactics like “mobile tote” tablets and interactive touch walls that allow you to add items to your dressing room queue. While these experiences certainly are adding some digital flair to the in-store experience, there’s a far simpler way to appease your digital-crazed shoppers…the device that’s already in their pockets. Providing a mobile-driven in-store shopping experience is a surefire way for brick and mortar establishments to keep shoppers not only engaged, but also spending more (seriously…digital interactions influence 56 cents on every dollar spent at brick and mortar stores). In-store mobile use cases go far beyond just providing a mobile app with product information or digital coupons. Retailers nowadays are leveraging new mobile tech like AR to actually draw shoppers to their physical display locations, increasing not only the in-store experience, but also the likelihood of purchase. The more creative and location-specific mobile experiences are, the more likely shoppers are to keep coming back to your retail location time and time again.

Toys R Us failed to appeal to the omnichannel shopper and paid the ultimate price. In order for brick and mortar locations to keep their doors open, they have to look at ways to integrate compelling mobile experiences into their in-store shoppers’ journey.