Andrew Weir writing at Brand Experience Matters has a nice post about the value of the physical retail experience. I especially like his concluding recommendation:

My recommendation is to leverage one of the main competitive advantages physical stores have... the ability to interact with consumers on an emotional level using the human touch. It is a powerful tool. Use it.

This is at the hurt of current work I've been doing with Vanessa Keith and her students at Pratt and a major retailer for a Retail 2020 design project. Physical retail has not changed in probably close to 200 years, yet the world around us has changed dramatically. Today we can drop-ship, shop online, use our cell-phone based barcode reader to check prices and, if we find a better deal, purchase right there. In your store. From someone else. I think that one of the biggest challenges that physical retail faces is become nothing more then very expensive windows for online retailers. And, it's OK if you shop at the online version of the store, but if I'm using Best Buy to window shop at Amazon, well, that's going to be a big problem.

Physical place is important. If you don't use it, you'll lose it.

Consumers shop in a number of different ways. These are two:

They can shop in a store with a nice environment, a wide selection of goods, and that has sales staff who are courteous and know what they are talking about.

They can buy on-line.

Okay, a lot of consumers do both (the insight that lead to this campaign).

Some stores invest significant time and resource in ensuring they deliver brand experiences that deliver and delight consumers. While other stores don’t ; they have rude and ill informed staff that don’t give a damn.

Which do you think will survive and thrive this new age?

Brand Experience Matters: It is possible for high street stores to win against on-line stores.

Download Sticky Soul, a field report from a 2008, holiday stroll through retail in NYC.

Image source: tim  d

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