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

Which Kind of Retailer Are You?

Convenience Retailer vs. Destination Retailer: Decision Time

Throughout the pandemic, millions of shoppers – including the older Baby Boomers – discovered the benefits of online shopping. Then, as brick-n-mortar retailers scrambled to survive, the increased availability of delivery, curbside pickup, BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup In Store) and BORIS (Buy Online, Return In Store) was well received by a broad swath of consumers. 

We see that this has brought heightened awareness of two different retail strategies: Convenience Retailing versus Destination Retailing. 

And here's the deal: retailers now must choose either one or the other of those two strategies. You cannot have one foot on the dock and one foot in the boat. You DO have to decide! 

  • That uncertain/undecided middle ground is not a viable choice. 
  • Those who end up there by default – by choosing to not choose  are on their first step to being former retailers!

Why? Because no matter which you choose, it will – and must -– drive many of your other decisions:

  • merchandise mix
  • vendor selection
  • employees
  • pricing
  • the store look
  • services offered
  • yes, essentially everything!

What is demanded of Convenience Retailers?
It's more than "location, location, location!" Indeed, given all the work-from-home changes, including disruptions to commuting patterns, there is a considerable shift in what constitutes a "convenient location."

Convenience Retailers have a demanding set of priorities for success, as they are in that lower-margin-higher-volume game.

  • Likely must be open many hours per day/days per week
  • Increased focus on time-saving efficiencies
  • More automation
  • More reliance on e-commerce and online shopping
  • More "basic" ("essential") merchandise
  • More price-and-item advertising focus
  • More transactional
  • More self-service

What is the other choice? To focus on being more of a Destination Retailer.

What is the focus of Destination Retailers?
Discretionary items for those with discretionary income and discretionary time. As such, stores of Destination Retailers tend to feature:

  • Store hours may reflect availability of your best sales staff
  • Personal service
  • Knowledgeable staff
  • Relationship selling
  • The shopping experience of discovery and delight
  • The web and social media are used for personalized communications with shoppers
  • FaceTime or Zoom shopping sessions with individual customers
  • Unique merchandise
  • Appointment shopping
  • And efforts to bond with the customers. 

There has been much disruption in retailing in recent years. In many communities – and especially in major cities – the "center of gravity" of shopping districts has shifted to neighborhoods and suburbs.

Plus, the rapid expansion of technology use by retailers has affected the dynamics of the customer relationship, and the customer's perception of "convenience." 

So, clarifying and prioritizing how your stores should be perceived is critical. And it has important impacts on all of your business decisions. 

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