Brick and mortar is back: The retail apocalypse is ‘nearing its end’

Happy Asian girlfriends walking in the city while watching on mobile smartphones – Young teen girls having fun with new social media apps – Youth millennial generation and technology concept

The retail apocalypse is nearing its end, giving brick-and-mortar the opportunity to make the comeback of a lifetime – and surprisingly, millennials and Gen Z are to thank for this movement. Retail locations are finding new footing and a new role in 2020, and that is because 43 per cent of both Millennials and Gen Z are more likely to do in-store shopping opposed to only 29 per cent of Gen X. 

It seems odd that the generations who are conditioned to constantly accessible technology, are practically glued to their phones, and have never turned to a leather-bound encyclopedia before consulting Wikipedia, would prefer in-store experiences over online shopping. But that is just it – it is the interaction they crave. 

In true millennial and Gen Z fashion, they desire a personalised shopping experience catered to them, in fact, a staggering 63 per cent of millennials note that they will actually spend more on a product if it comes with a personalised experience. For retail locations, improving customer service is going to be key if they want to continue to turn the heads of millennials and Gen Z. With these generations making a significant dent in the buying power of today’s consumers, brick-and-mortar locations will need to brush up on this 2020 retail trend as they plan for the future. 

Retail has experienced many ups and downs, from the entrance into a digital age and advancement of retail technology, to experiencing a retail apocalypse causing many store locations to close their doors. The future for brick-and-mortar retailing looked bleak as retailers began to loosen the reins and became lax on creating the type of customer experience that keeps shoppers coming back. But not anymore: this year promises a resurgence of brick-and-mortar retailing, and it is in high-demand.

Personalisation of the retail experience 

With the goal of cultivating a more personalised retail environment, retailers can tap into the abundance of data available about their consumers. Social-media influence and social shopping and retail are even more intertwined now than ever before. Online activity provides the data insights into preferences, buying habits, and interests of consumers – driving personalisation in the retail sector moving into this year and beyond.

The tactical use of this data makes creating personalised promotions easier than ever – an excellent tool to target retail customers and keep them engaged with your brand. Customising relevant data points with targeted deals and offers generates more profitable purchases leading to more revenue for the retailer. 

Retail 4.0: an integrated omnichannel approach

This year’s retail trends are moving toward putting the consumer more in control of their retail choices and behaviour. Which opens the door for Retail 4.0 – the “new retail” – a hybrid approach between physical and digital retail that relies on consumer data for a more customer-centric experience throughout the supply chain. An integrated omnichannel approach is the way to successfully move into the future of retail. 

Integrated omnichannel retail breaks barriers between customers and their purchase mode using multiple touch points for a single purchase. The result is improved customer engagement by providing a consistent shopping experience across channels. Adopting this approach can improve data accuracy by as much as 95 per cent and streamlines the processes on the backend to seamlessly transition them on the front end, providing a better customer experience, with multiple paths to purchase. 

Looking ahead, with 20/20 vision, it is clear that streamlining processes and cutting away retail excess is going to be key to retail success. The long-feared ‘retail apocalypse’ is clearly nearing its end.

Paula Da Silva is executive VP of partners and alliances – global – at CitiXsys. With more than 25 years’ experience in IT, she has been instrumental in building iVend Retail into a global player in the retail industry

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