Brick-and-Mortar Retailers Must Innovate to Flourish in a Digital World
Entrepreneur's New Year’s Guide
Many industry experts have predicted the death of brick-and-mortar retail for years now. However, brick-and-mortar is nowhere close to dying -- rather, it’s getting a complete overhaul, putting the pressure on marketers to think of creative ways for their brands to stand out from the competition's.
Davide Savenije, the senior editor at Industry Dive, has written that, “The biggest drivers of retail’s transformation are the emergence of the internet and mobile technology, the rise in millennial spending power, the impact of globalization and the empowerment of the consumer.” Because of these factors, building a bridge between the digital and physical worlds is one of the biggest challenges brick and mortar retailers face.
Engaging with consumers requires making positive and personalized impressions, which means brands need to look for new disruptive and innovative ways to grab the attention of consumers.
However, as the world becomes increasingly connected, the desire to disconnect from digital devices and reconnect face-to-face is also increasing. This desire for in-person connection applies not only to people, but to the products and services brands sell. Proof? According to the U.S. Census, 92 percent of purchases continue to be made off-line. And, contrary to popular belief, as many as 82 percent of millennials say on surveys that they prefer to shop in a brick-and-mortar store.
It’s clear, then, that retail shoppers thrive on experience -- so, in order for brick and mortar to survive, it has to adapt to the evolving needs and desires of its customers. And, because the average American is exposed to well over 1,000 marketing messages each day, physical retailers have to be strategic, even disruptive, in order to cut through the advertising clutter.
With the evolution of digital marketing performance-based metrics, marketers are empowered to continually optimize campaigns through the establishment of key performance indicators (KPIs) in an attempt to measure return. While retail in-store digital signage solutions such as video walls, kiosks and traditional digital displays have become increasingly prevalent, for the storefront itself, the adoption of street-facing digital signage remains low.
This is due to lack of innovation in terms of what the storefront offers. But that's about to change: Though retail brands will continue to invest and allocate additional marketing budget toward their online marketing efforts, we’ll soon see a shift toward the storefront as new technologies emerge, bringing new life and energy to the storefront.
In May 2016, research firm CB Insights named 72 startups transforming brick and mortar retail, by utilizing innovations in digital technologies. Interestingly enough, however, of the high-level categories listed, the physical storefront was left out.
Still, as the saying goes, if you can spot the gap, you can fill the void. In the coming months, more and more brands will begin transforming their storefronts through the abundance of newly emerging storefront display technology. Here are a few companies we’ve seen innovating retail and further helping brick and mortar brands compete in a digital world:
Window Agent, which serves real estate agents, has developed a touch-screen and street-facing TV display containing virtual tours and interactive maps. Pedestrians can engage with the display, to learn more details about local listings. Agents using the technology are able to update their listings based on the analytics they receive from these same passersby.
NEXNOVO recently introduced a line of semi-transparent, LED displays called “Glass Wall LED Screens,” which can be hung in just about any storefront window to engage street-facing consumers.
ThinkSign recently launched indoor and outdoor LED window display units engineered for 24/7 operation through its electronic messaging center, allowing brands to update their signs in real time.
Glass-Media, our company, empowers brands to digitize street-facing glass through its cloud-connected, projection-based PoP platform, infused with robust data analytic capabilities. Brands can update their PoP (an integrated circuit packaging technology) across their portfolio without relying on employees or lengthy production cycles.
Through the unique solutions being offered by companies that recognize the gap in storefront digital display, brands can engage street-level passersby in a whole new way: They can bring digital-marketing strategies to a place (literally) where it’s never been before.
This retail shakeup may come as a surprise to some. But, fortunately, both innovative corporations and startups alike that are focused on retail technology are working tirelessly to both reshape and empower brick-and-mortar brands to compete in a digital world.
As a result, it’s not a question of choosing either ecommerce or brick and mortar; it’s a matter of how to use both simultaneously, seamlessly blending "clicks with bricks."