Before they get lost forever in the swirling haze of apparently superior Web-sprung cons, there are still plenty of pros to recommend the traditional retail environment. And retailers would do well to think on them abundantly, rather than simply crawl into the depths of the shadow e-commerce has thrown over their existence.
To that end, a reminder of the fundamental — and still exceptionally relevant — strengths to which brick-and-mortar shops should be energetically playing right now. Here’s a trio to get you started.
The feel-good factor. There’s nothing more conducive to encouraging the spending impulse than a physical environment mindfully designed to make a person feel comfy, happy and given to indulgence. No matter how artfully presented, no website can furnish a person with such wallet-tickling warm fuzzies. So brick-and-mortar stores need to capitalize on this reality with interiors that makes their visitors feel good. If you provide a great experience for your customers, they will reward you with purchase. Full stop.
The flesh-and-blood service factor. When it comes to the level of customer service they offer, e-commerce sites run the gamut between truly terrible and genuinely impressive. But even the furthest end of the scale is no match for the in-person spectre of a human — or a cadre of humans — devoted to serving a person’s shopping needs and addressing her shopping questions. Real-life customer service is immediate, attentive and — best of all — exceedingly, refreshingly present. Stores need to remember that, and exploit it utterly.
The engaging-the-senses factor. 2014 or no, a website can still only stimulate one of its intended audience’s senses: sight. A rich, multidimensional, designed-to-detail store environment, however, can engage the lot. That means retailers must pay close attention to their store’s sensory minutiae — from soothing ambient noises and pleasing ambient scents to warm lighting and inspired fixtures — such that its guests can’t help but feel sensorially at ease enough to buy stuff.