For Retailers Stores Remain In The Fore

greg sleterSummer 2018 is now in the rearview mirror and the holiday season is on the horizon. And despite predictions to the contrary just a couple of years back, most consumers will be shopping for their holiday season needs in stores.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. The brick-and-mortar store has survived and is thriving.

Not long ago we heard lots of chatter from our brethren in the consumer press about a “retail apocalypse” and predictions of massive store closures as consumers were apparently staying at home in droves and shopping on their tablets and smartphones.

While those two technological marvels are key tools in how consumers buy products today, it’s the store that remains the focal point for retailers. Yes, we have seen some retailers right-size their store count and others, such as The Bon-Ton, unfortunately, go belly up.

But for most of today’s leading retailers, stores remain the foundations— literally and figuratively— of their operations.

That said, retailers that continue to rely on their stores to drive sales must do more to engage shoppers. Scott Hessell, director of the Terry Lundgren Center for Retailing at the University of Arizona, told me in a recent interview that retailers must evolve their stores and their relationships with consumers.

“There needs to be a change from a relationship that is purely transactional to one that engages with shoppers,” he said.

A key element of that enhanced engagement has been the omnichannel approach many retailers have taken. The likes of Walmart, Target, Home Depot and Williams Sonoma have successfully engaged with consumers in a variety of ways both in store and digitally and recent mid-year financial reports show their respective successes.

And with the holidays just around the corner, it will be a must watch to see how retailers enhance that engagement with shoppers in stores to drive sales now and strengthen relationships for the future.