Big has been in for the retailing industry for much of the past three decades. Mega shopping malls, enormous supercenter stores, and big box specialty stores fit with the portrayal of American excess. Big retailing fit shoppers’ desires for selection and convenience. But, a shift taking place in how we shop will lead to significant changes in retailing in coming years.
According to a study by PwC, the emergence of social media and mobile commerce will alter the retail landscape by 2020. The concept of a store as the shopper’s destination will be replaced by what the study calls an “omnichannel” shopper. We will expect retailers to be able to serve equally well in-store, via the Internet, on social network sites, and through our mobile devices. The experience should be the same regardless of channel used. That expectation is a major departure from where most retailers are today in their ability to deliver seamless multichannel experiences for shoppers.
Will the supercenter be a retailing concept that has run its course by 2020? New store trends already reflect the shift as stores like Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart, and Whole Foods are opening smaller stores. From a operations standpoint, it is logical to open stores that cost less to staff, stock, and operate. But, the customer experience must be maintained, if not enhanced, at the same time. “Less is more” will work if retailers are able to align the various interactions points shoppers have with their stores.
Presentation has always been important in retailing – the “5th P” of the marketing mix. Its importance does not diminish just because stores are downsizing. In fact, presentation may be more important than ever as we make judgments about a retailer’s presentation regardless of the channel in which we interact with the store – in-person, on the store’s web site, using a smartphone app, or on one of the store’s social media sites.