What does the future of brick-and-mortar retail look like?
Last week, the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) touched on the subject by presenting a webinar with executives from Saks Fifth Avenue, Craig Realty Group and FIDM Faculty.
The retail industry has undergone an evolution throughout 2020. But, what’s next? And how does brick and mortar come into play? Most retailers have adapted omnichannel methods, with the physical landscape now playing a different role in today’s industry.
Larry Bruce, Director of Stores at Saks Fifth Avenue, shared how the retailer is focusing more on personalized relationships, both in-store and online. A key advantage to Saks is how well they know their consumers – from where they vacation to what they’re passionate about, and more. They know this information based on the meaningful relationships they’ve crafted through their in-store experience. Creating these relationships now is a little more difficult, but they’ve managed to create an elevated digital presence that allows style advisors to assist shoppers online. They’ve also shifted a new focus on their in-store services, while redefining what this looks like.
Saks’ goal is not to solely accelerate their e-commerce post-COVID, but rather just understand the importance – and to fuze the digital and in-store experience. The Saks brand flourishes in the brick-and-mortar environment, and most of their customers don’t want to spend hours shopping online.
Pent-up demand has driven sales, and properties are doing well at Craig Realty Group, noted Deborah Siegel, Vice President and General Counsel. Customers are buying more, and conversion rates are much higher. Shoes have been the main driving factor, with apparel close behind.
The pandemic has sparked inspiration for Craig Realty Group to create new experiences at their properties. Consumers today are craving new things in retail. By crafting a mixed-use space that creates community, this will continue to drive consumers’ interest. Siegel believes that both brick and mortar and online are here to stay. However, it’s harder to buy online because of the physical need to touch and visualize things in person.
“New retail spaces will have to touch and invigorate all of the senses,” said Gail Jackson, FIDM Instructor.
The future of brick and mortar needs to include reimagined and consumer-centric spaces, believes Jackson. To succeed in today’s times, there needs to be a balance of convenience, safety and experience. This first started with department stores, which has driven community-centric spaces, and made retail what it is today.
Consumers have become too advanced for retailers to stick with their traditional models. To succeed today, there needs to be a clear focus on regeneration, rethinking and reconnecting. By engaging and connecting with the consumer you’re giving them the fun, new experience they want and crave.
Reimagined mall spaces have become especially important to provide destination spaces and experiential venues. This new real estate model will also create a wider potential for other avenues, such as pop-ups, noted Jackson.
Each of the executives from the webinar touched on similar things. This next generation for brick and mortar is all about imagery, experiences and community. Crafting these spaces with consumers at the forefront will allow brick and mortar to continue to grow and thrive, while bringing in new opportunities.