Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Good bye Bricks and Mortar, hello Bricks and Clicks

The face of retail is changing. It’s no longer about stores or online shopping; successful retailers are combining both to give consumers what they want.

Although people argue for either case, the future of retail lies in being able to engage with both mediums successfully and harmoniously.

Leading Australian womens wear brand Sportsgirl is a great example of aligning with customer needs. Introducing interactive mirrors to their Chapel Street flagship store, shoppers can share their look with their friends through social media and obtain comments about their proposed purchases before buying. Window Shopping at brands like Wittner has also taken on a new meaning, with online ordering made simple through the introduction of QR Codes. Cotton On has launched ‘Try On Your Sound’, a first fitting room experience that uses RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology to enhance the customer experience.

‘Try On Your Sound’ combines music and fashion to enhance the shopper’s in-store experience by creating a mini gig environment in the fitting room. Selected garments, are tagged with a unique RFID code and when these garments are taken in to the purpose built fitting rooms, the RFID technology initiates a playlist individually selected to reflect the style of the garment being tried on.

Sportsgirl Interactive Mirror

Wittner "Window Shopping"

Not everyone gets it right though. In the recently announced Internet Shopping Awards the results highlighted the lack of integration by the traditional bricks and mortar stores in
winning positions with online-only stores taking pole position in majority of categories. Congratulations can be given to the Dick Smith business who was announced as the winner for Australia’s best online store at the Online Retail Industry Awards (ORIA).

Even the fast food industry is cashing in on the growing online integrated strategy with an ever increasing number of businesses developing their websites, SEO and more importantly their on line ordering systems through smart phone applications, mobile sites and even fax and email ordering. Dominos pizza on-line/mobile site ordering now accounts for over 40% of sales and that is up 44% over last year and the company expects online sales to reach in excess of 60% of total sales.

As consumers continue to feel the pinch, retailers are looking to short term leases, or “pop up “store concepts with minimum space. This cuts down on long term rental payment commitments and has the benefit of creating consumer excitement.

As we head into this dynamic environment, it’s important that retailers look at all aspects of their operations and ensuring that they have a sales strategy that is totally integrated. Even with all this change the focus needs to remain on the coal face and the 'moment of truth' service experience whether that be online or in person, with that said retailers need to focus on their staff profile. Creating a completely different customer experience doesn’t come at the click of your fingers. Staff training on different procedures is vital – knowledge and customer service can be a key point of difference. There is a world of choice out there and consumers will spend their money where they feel it’s deserved; ensure your team know all aspects of any new releases way in advance, even if you feel they won’t directly be dealing with it, a consumer won’t separate the two and will expect your team to know what the business is all about, as good as your online or business growth strategy may be, if your people don't deliver on the brand promise or understand your objectives and how to serve consumers in the new and more competitive millennium, all that money that has been spent on being contemporary will count for nothing.

All commerce, not e-commerce. It’s the way of the future.
- John Caldwell


  1. cool article Mr Caldwell

  2. Great article, you seem to really know what's happening out in the retail space. I see so many retailers getting it wrong in store and they're spending millions on advertising and marketing and web strategies, man just get that moment of truth right in store, we're paying for it!