Bricks and mortar have been in need of a marketplace disruption - the kind that turns what’s currently happening on its side and makes way for a growing, sustainable model able to pull some market share back from online retailers. It’s quite an undertaking, but with smart analytics, tech tools and big brand support, there’s potential. The recent surge in apps, platforms, programs and analytics supporting small businesses have set the stage for an interesting 2017.
Smart Concept Shops
Pop-Up Shops are the new temporary, short-term brick and mortar storefronts that give online e-tailers and retail brands, with no local presence, a way to generate offline sales. The Pop-Up concept is buzzworthy. With a short shelf life, limited inventory and the touch + feel ability, it creates a new demand and unique-ish shopping experience. The Storefront is a real estate search engine that focuses specifically on helping retailers search for available, temporary, short-term spaces to accommodate Pop-Ups. And finally, Google opening their #MadebyGoogle Pop-Up shop in Manhattan to introduce their new high-end hardware at the close of 2016.
As for the smart long-term shops? Amazon is gearing up to open Amazon Go, a new retail outfit where people enter the store, take the products they want, and go without lines or checkout. Though new and unproven, it’s something Amazon believes will be a new path in distribution and sales.
Customers, Locations and the In-Store Experience
So what about the traditional brick and mortar that does not fall into one of these Smart Shop categories - how can they leverage their existing location to become a competitor in this new arena? Forward-thinking tech companies like RetailNext and Dor have developed solutions that analyze and forecast the in-store experience by providing things like shopper measurement and engagement. This can help businesses understand, predict and service their customers more precisely. Spatially provides key insights about the people who work, live and visit business areas, helping businesses learn more about potential customers who may not yet be active customers. Spatially also analyzes and reveals what influences a business at any given location including what consumers are spending, competitors, and market potential.
A Little Push from Big Business
And lastly, the increase in popularity of the Amex Small Business Saturday program, since its launch 7 years ago, has helped smaller stores generate sales and brand awareness. American Express has become a supportive partner to these businesses by providing tips, tools and promotional opportunities with their #ShopSmall initiative.
The question is - can these new tools and technology move the needle for local retailers? Maybe.