From The Co-Founders


Tips, Tactics & Strategic Insights and Commentary
from The ROI Co-Founders, Pat Johnson and Dick Outcalt
Outcalt & Johnson: Retail Strategists LLC; Retail Turnaround Experts

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What Digital-First Brands Are Discovering About Physical Retail

The basic definition of retailing is "selling to the ultimate consumer." 

As you know, HOW that is done, and in what location or format, continues to change and evolve. 

So, we were intrigued by this recent post on the Shopify Retail Blog: The Future of Physical Retail in a Digital-First World.*

  • The "retail digital-first world", of course, is either the "pure play e-commerce retailers," those who sell only online, or the "brands" (what we used to call manufacturers) who have embraced the "DTC model," selling direct-to-consumer. 
  • And as you know, Shopify is one of the largest platforms for e-commerce businesses. Definitely a leader of the retail digital-first world.

To us, the blog post was essentially a wide-ranging journey of discovery(and perhaps even some new-found respect for those "physical retailers".)

For instance here are some of the points in the blog that jumped out at us:

  • The pandemic did not lead to the extinction of physical retail.
  • DTC brands have found that physical stores are quite valuable.
  • A frictionless transaction may not be sufficient to attract and keep customers.  
  • Indeed, stores can deepen the consumerߴs connection with the brand. 

In addition, it also reviewed how those physical retailers are continuing to change and adapt.

  • They are using a variety of formats to reach customers, such as Lululemon pop-ups to sell excess inventory or Nordstrom seasonal pop-ups in the Hamptons. 
  • It also identified an array of technologies that physical retailers areusing in-store to be sure to provide that digital experience for the shopper. 

And it concludes with these reassurances:

  • "While the future of stores seemed questionable in March 2020, brands are now more confident than ever in physical retail."
  • "Brick and mortar stores have been and will remain an integral part of serving customers and connecting with local communities."

Independent retailers, it seems, have forever been regarded as an endangered species, threatened by the latest new thing. Sears Roebuck catalog, anybody?

Today, physical retailing – done by professional retailers – is stronger than ever.
The Future of Physical Retail in a Digital-First World. Lauren Mathews, Shopify Retail Blog, May 13, 2022.

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