According to Globest, a “new age of retail” has emerged in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as brands begin to open physical store locations at a renewed pace, according to a new analysis from Moody’s Analytics. The recent slew of store openings demonstrates “a reasonably strong appetite for in-person shopping exists on both the demand and supply sides,” Moody’s analysts note.
Increase in foot traffic
Perhaps the surge in brick and mortar is due to the robust resurgence of foot fall. Placer.ai, the industry’s go-to resource for location analytics and foot traffic insights, reports an increase in foot traffic that exceeds 2019 figures.
Placer.ai data is used to analyze a sector’s performance and identify pockets of growth, market insights and visitation data. Said data unveils brand preferences, habits, and interests.
In my conversation with Ethan Chernofsky, VP of Marketing for Place.ai, he explained that Placer.ai works with the entire retail ecosystem from developers, real estate agents through retailers which includes over 60% of the largest retailers across all categories with a healthy concentration in grocery.
Clicks to bricks
Today, DTC darlings are now creating brick and mortar-related headlines like this:
We’re on track to open up 35 stores this year — Warby Parker (WSJ) CEO Neil Blumenthal.
Allbirds counted just 27 brick-and-mortar locations as of the summer, but it’s planning to ramp up that number by the hundreds — allbirds (CNBC) co-founder and co-CEO Joey Zwillinger.
We believe we are at the very early stages of our growth with 140 restaurants. There is such a massive wide space for what we are doing” – Jonathan Neman, Sweetgreen (CNBC) oo-founder and CEO.
In the past 100 days Warby Parker, allbirds and Sweetgreen have each had public listings and each reported they had just started scratching the surface of physical locations. Most report that the capital infusion from the IPO is earmarked for physical location growth.
Three pressures on DTC brands are driving the pendulum toward physical locations and rethink a digital-only approach:
- proliferation of channels
- the rise of CAC
- increasing digital saturation
It was a lot cheaper to reach customers and get more sales online than it was to rent a physical retail space.
Bricks like clicks
If this is truly the reinvention of the shopping experience, this go-round, consumers are expecting an in-store experience that resembles the online experience. What does that mean? It is the challenge and charge of a physical location to replicate rich digital experiences into engaging physical experiences.
Physical retail, current and future, is charged with implementing an experience that is personal, frictionless, and option-rich.
How to get there
E-commerce is credited for being customer-data rich with measurable, actionable metrics and insights by client while brick and mortar is perceived as languishing in dated systems without customer information.
For brick-and-mortar, you’ll need to understand how to bridge the gap between data, analytics, and insights in-store vs online. Look to your POS as a central source for information gathering.
Maximize your in-store POS technology
For single-channel brick-and-mortar only clients, capture and store zip code data in the client profile in the POS to ensure the most comprehensive data for analysis of total customer base. Additionally, consider looking at how your store impacts online sales from the surrounding area.
Shopify reports brick and mortar locations typically have a halo effect that can serve as a valuable marketing vehicle that helps acquire new customers and lift online sales as well. It has been reported by the brand KOTN, omnichannel customers (in store and online) have had a 2.5x higher LTV than single channel clients. For omnichannel clients, reports by location can provide actionable data for expansion or pop-up location.
2. Segmentation and personalization
Personalization, in e-commerce, is the tailoring of messages or offers to individuals based on their actual behavior. In brick and mortar, the source and scale are different.
For physical locations, rather than getting information from client behavior, the information is based on the relationship and communication between associate and client. This data input into the POS system allows for personalization and informs the tailoring of messages, selling service and offers.
According to McKinney’s Report: Marketing’s Holy Grail: Digital Personalization at Scale, done right, personalization enhances customers’ lives and increases engagement and loyalty by delivering messages that are tuned to and even anticipate what customers really want. These benefits to the customer translate into benefits for the company as well.
3. Inventory tracking vs inventory management
Inventory tracking is critical yet baseline. Tracking avoids stockouts but is not the ideal way to protect your store’s largest investment and to forecast spending. Inventory management and analysis provide an investment roadmap to reveal levers to unlock cash and profitability. POS reports can be part of a rich source of data for deeper insights.
According to Nico Cabral, Head of Marketing at Management One, a leading merchandise intelligence solution resource, data in the POS coupled with deep analysis can generate actionable insights for cash flow, inventory turnover, and merchandise freshness.
Legacy retailer J Jill reported second-quarter gross profit was $109.4 million, up $54 million compared to the year-ago period and up $4 million compared to the second quarter of 2019. Its gross margin was 68.7%, up 930 basis points over the second quarter of last year and up 1,040 basis points compared to the same period in 2019 (Chainstoreage).
CEO Claire Spofford reports laser focus on topline growth and margin by pulling back inventory and reducing floor sets with smaller capsules to drive freshness and turn.
POS vs POE
The point-of-sale as a place of transaction and payment belies the powerful resources built within the system. Dig deeply into these resources to amplify the in-store shopper experience – think POE – Point of Engagement. Remember, to tap your systems to provide the rich omnichannel customer experiences.