As we continue to troll through a hyper-changing world of digital disruption, the opportunity for brick-and-click retailers this year, believe it or not, is to re-focus back to core local retail operational roots, as store traffic continues to be the heart and soul of store profitability.
Here then are two disruptive changes to expect from smart omni-channel retailers in order to over-capitalize on their expensive brick retail structures, and to accelerate opportunity against both brick- and cloud-based competitors:
Core Down Heavy And Up: Each brick store will no longer operate independent to its e-commerce business. Retail models will morph through the realization that their brick stores must and should own and compete for each and every consumer within their 3-5 mile geographic operating area. This suggests that a brick retail store must become the hub of its “local operating neighborhood,” inclusive to both brick and click.
In essence, brick-and-click retailers need to compete with click-only retailers by fueling, energizing and digitally investing within each local “brick” neighborhood, advantaged by human capital, services, easy pickup and returns, and most importantly, local rewards, community programs, community relationships and advantaged omni-channel benefits.
Each consumer within the 5-mile operating radius of each brick store also becomes a local digital node, as opposed to today’s distant global digital node. The benefits of local human capital and 3-5 mile local relevant digital relationships for brick-and-click will smartly out-muscle and disrupt computer-generated click-only relationships thousands of miles away in the cloud.
Convenience Is Profitable Support: In 2017 all consumer products, services and usability support costs will go up, not down. Hence, savvy brick retailers will smartly find ways to attract, convert and boomerang-retain consumers by leveraging, stretching and protracting their current SG&A operating assets into consumer-centric, cost-saving benefits.
Of course brick-and-click retailers know that it is difficult to do such for consumers from thousands of miles away from an e-commerce engine (outside of price, convenience and free shipping). Hence the local brick human element will deliver enhanced services fueling competitive advantage.
Engaging services could include same-day, perhaps samehour local product delivery to consumers within a 5-mile radius. After all, we can order a pizza over the phone and have it delivered within 15 minutes. Imagine how fast a local electronics brick retailer can deliver a product, especially if they do not have to bake it, heat it up and keep it warm.
Other engaging services could include after-school programs for students, teachers or others on the subjects of digital gaming, cool apps for smart phones and video programming. The more convenient a brick store makes consumer living, the more profitable the store becomes itself.
This year, savvy retailers, within their 5-mile operating radiuses, will be disruptive; must be productive; and must out-muscle cloud-based retailers thousands of miles away. This will be the year of the refulgent, multi-modal, local brick-and-click retailer, and we all look forward to the positive experiences ahead.
Peter Weedfald is sale and marketing senior VP for Sharp Electronics Marketing Company of America (SEMCA), a unit of Sharp Electronics Corp.