As a kid I remember always going shopping with my mom when she went to run errands. We would go to the pet store for our dog food, Target for toiletries, and malls for enjoyment. I distinctly remember Christmas being my absolute favorite time to go to the mall because there were kiosks selling personalized ornaments outside the stores, and department stores like Macy’s would have very festive decorations. Now, my parents by dog food and toiletries from Amazon, and for enjoyment, we graze through pages and pages of clothing or technology items on retail websites. We no longer go to brick and mortar stores to fulfill our needs or satisfy our interests. Online retail has greatly influenced how people shop, and online advertising has facilitated influencing people’s purchase decisions. Due to this, malls are struggling to survive, individual department stores are going bankrupt, and almost all storefronts are competing with online retail giants. Websites like Etsy even make personalized items available online.
Does this mean that there is no longer a need for brick and mortar stores, or is it simply calling for these storefronts to evolve? I believe digital integration is the most important survival and success strategy that physical stores can adopt. I may do most of my Christmas shopping online, but I also enjoy browsing through stores for ideas when I don’t know what I want. Physical retail stores allow customers to try on clothes and purchase and receive their item immediately. Because of this, brick and mortar stores can still compete, they just need to evolve. Consumers wanted an integrated experience, where they can easily access digital and physical components of the brand. For example, Target allows you to scan an item to see the price. Some stores allow you to search for items in stock, and others use their website to tell where you can find the product in store. These are all examples of integration. A store needs to have a structured and pleasing physical location paired with a functional and easy-to-use website. Ikea allows customers to use their app to place items in their virtual home to see what it would look like. This is another strong example of digital integration. Physical stores aren’t irrelevant, but they need to adapt to survive.