The future is uncertain for retailers

It has been announced that several retailers such as Macy’s, Sears, and Gap have closed or are planning on closing several of their locations within the next year.

The blame is put on underperformance in stores, but some would argue that they are not competitive and innovative enough in today’s marketplace. This begs the question: what is the future hold for retailers?

With the rise of e-commerce, it is becoming harder for brick-and-mortar stores to give consumers something that they cannot get online. High-end department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys, and Bergdorf Goodman are fighting back; they are revamping their in-store experience to draw customers to their brick-and-mortar locations.

By offering distinct architecture, celebrity collaborations and incorporating technology into the shopping experience, these retailers are striving to maintain their “exclusivity” in order to draw shoppers. They try to offer an added value to the shopping experience that customers cannot get anywhere else.

The Memory Mirror at select Neiman Marcus locations captures images and video of everything tried on so customers can see outfits side-by-side and in a 360 degree view.
The Memory Mirror at select Neiman Marcus locations captures images and video of everything tried on so customers can see outfits side-by-side and in a 360 degree view.

Other retailers like Gap, are selling their products more like a service. Through an app, guests at Virgin Hotels can now reserve clothing for purchase from the Gap. The hotel concierge will then pick up the clothing from a local Gap and put the items in that guest’s closet and charge it to their tab.

While change can be a risk and a high investment, retailers need to respond to the habits of their customers, and do something to stay relevant in the marketplace. Retailers are looking towards a shopping experience as opposed to it just being seen as a task. Today’s technology is making it possible to aid customers in their shopping experience, leaning them towards a planned purchase rather than an impulse purchase.

The future of retailing is fairly uncertain, but what is certain is that retailers need to provide an experience to differentiate themselves from the rest. Retail is not going anywhere, but brick-and-mortar stores just might.

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