Offline will be even more important for brands
In-store insight: January 2022
“Retailers need to think about their physical and their online presence as one, rather than as two separate entities” according to Kate Orwin, UK Leasing Director at shopping centre operator Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield. Orwin continues, “what’s more, when people visit physical retail stores, they’re coming with a real intention to spend." Online will continue to lead the way but offline will be even more important for brands, including digitally native brands, who are looking to truly engage with consumers. URW has welcomed more than 40 million visitors to Westfield London and Stratford City.
Bricks-and-mortar retailers spent Q1 2021 in lockdown. However, the rest of the year felt decidedly more promising – and the stats back it up. In October 2021 alone, the UK’s retail spending was up by 6.3% compared to the same period in 2019.
2022 looks set to continue with major customer experience transformation accelerated by global events. The traction seen with digital transformation prior to recent events has been greatly accelerated as a result of COVID. The impact has been the fast-tracking of change as physical locations temporarily closed and key touch points with customers became primarily digital.
Click and collect, appointment-based shopping, and curb side delivery have become the norm. Expectations of store teams and customer service operatives is changing dramatically with adaptability and flexibility required in the drive to maintain customer loyalty and deliver great service.
Four Hot Trends in Retail – What Can We Expect?
So, what are retailers doing to draw customers inside their physical stores? Let's take a look at a few of the strategies we might see from retailers in 2022 and how commercial real estate investors might be affected.
An increasing number of mall properties are being 'de-malled', or repurposed as something other than a shopping mall, and this trend is likely to pick up steam next year. These buildings are being given new lives as everything from schools or libraries to offices.
Retailers need to give shoppers good reason to get ready and drive to the store instead of simply walking to their computers or grabbing their phones. That's where incentives come in. Digital coupons that are only good (or that offer a better deal) in-store are one way to go. Loyalty programs offering more generous perks for purchases at a physical store are another.
Few people enjoy packaging things back up, filling out and/or printing some kind of paperwork, and then dealing with shipping when they return a product. It should be much easier to just take the item and the receipt back to the store. But often, it's not. You might have to find someone to help you, wait in a long line, or wait even longer while a trainee gets help because something went awry and they don't know what to do.
We'll likely start seeing more self-service kiosks popping up in stores, allowing customers to quickly and easily return items themselves without help from an assistant. And of course, giving consumers another reason to set foot inside the store is always a win for real estate investors.
The idea of experiential retail is to ensure that shopping in the store is an enjoyable, rewarding experience that can't be duplicated with a few clicks of a mouse. Think shopping trip and fun outing combined. With experiential retail, a store might hire pros who can teach shoppers how best to use its products, hold special events, or create exciting ways customers can enjoy the products in the store.
These experiences can encourage not only in-store shopping but also brand loyalty as well as free social media marketing thanks to some enthusiastic shoppers.
According to the Gartner: “By 2025, organizations offering unified commerce experience by frictionlessly moving customers through journeys will see at least a 20% uplift in total revenue."
With these rapidly changing trends set to take a more permanent place, our clients are now looking at how new customer expectations are reshaping their retail landscape. Much energy is being put in to reimagining the role of stores, store associates, and agents.
The challenge remains how to consistently provide an exceptional and unified customer experience through blended physical and digital channels.
Anticipating demand and visitation in such changeable times is presenting new and unique challenges.
Maximising Footfall - The Power of Business Intelligence
After more than two decades in the Retail space helping clients to maximise opportunity and drive service and sales with real time visitation and resource planning tools, we are now seeing a real shift in emphasis. It’s no longer a question of whether to implement occupancy and visitation solutions, it’s about utilising the information to empower fast, intelligent decision making.
By using and embedding tools such as Power BI we can offer data preparation and discovery, interactive dashboards and rich visualisations in one solution. With rich and intuitive capabilities, its proving to be the perfect tool for interacting with data and turning it into insights more easily. Sharing dynamic performance vs goal and ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ spots around retail space means teams can divert focus, resource and products appropriately.
In a recent quote from the Retail Think Tank it’s become very clear that with the challenges comes opportunity for smart retailers.
“The direction of change that the UK retail sector is heading in has not diverged due to COVID-19, but it has accelerated the need for fundamental structural changes and innovation in the ways retailers operate and reach their customers."
Undoubtedly the recent impact of the pandemic has been monumental for retailers. Not all the behavioural changes will stick long term, some of them will revert to the old. Much will depend on the desire and ability of consumers to spend, as the effects of the huge hit to the economy lingers and the uncertainty caused by Brexit acts as a further hurdle in the economy’s road to recovery.
The RTT firmly believes, however, that there is a now a window of opportunity for retail operators to seize the initiative, and, with Governmental policy support, become bold and radical, embrace the quest for new business models, remain intensely focussed on their customers, and so ensure they are in a position to take full advantage of the opportunities that present themselves.”
If you would like to find out more about StoreTech and how we help bricks and mortar retailers measure the opportunity, optimise performance, and improve the customer experience, we'd be delighted to have a chat online or in person.