Just read a great article by Virginia Postrel, on Bloomberg.com, on how Big-Box retailers need to turn back the clock and get back to their roots—going beyond their products/services and focus on their in-store experience.
Not that I grew up in the 19th Century, but I did grow up in the 80’s, in Minneapolis MN, where Dayton’s (now Macy’s) reigned supreme—I even worked at their flagship location while in college when online commerce was barely a blip on the screen.
Fast forward to last night when my wife and I used Amazon Prime Now to order: groceries, batteries for a toy for our 6 year old, and socks for our 1 year old while I juggled answering emails and talking to my wife–all from home. Within 1 hour, I was digging into a fresh bowl of Cheerios and my wife was thanking me for saving her a trip to Target the next day.
Saying an industry has changed is of course anticlimactic (change is inevitable), but, this has been a pretty rapid shift/change/evolution/whatever you want to call it.
In a matter of 5 years we have seen once mighty retailers try to adapt at warp speed to keep up. Whether it’s Walmart aggressively rolling up tech retail to leapfrog ahead and try to keep pace with Amazon, or Macy’s slashing their footprint (and shore up cash resources) to realign their business, the question of “how do we adapt” is the same but the answers vary depending on who you ask, and who you are.
We at IdealSpot think that micro-retailing, based on mapping a local market’s wants and needs, is a salve to the brick-and-mortar bleeding.
By understanding both the movement of traffic in-and-out of an area, and what actions/activities/purchase intent is signaled in an area, retailers/restauranteurs/developers/etc. will better understand how to capture and ZERO-IN on local, recurring demand and service it in a more palatable manner. Add to that Virginia’s referenced higher level of service and you have a winning formula to beat back online retail– which is essentially a dispassionate super store with the benefit of “one-click” access.
Granted it will continue to be hard to compete with Amazon on the commoditized goods, but for retail items that have the potential of a better shopping experience when you can “try it on”, view the “quality”, or ask “expert advice”, local retail still has the edge.
That said, micro-retail’s biggest risk is missing the target of what a local populace wants or needs—we have seen this played out many times, on many streets across the US. To know where to locate a laser focused micro-retail store you need the best aiming tool—and while demographics can help you aim, only demand data gives you the ability to ZERO-IN.