The new meaning of the “storefront” experience

Retail is one sector that has seen some dynamic changes in recent years, particularly with the rise of e-commerce. We’ve also seen a wave of popular chains, like Toys’R’Us and Brookstone, shutting down or drastically reducing their physical stores. Some believe brick and mortar is dying while others see an opportunity for physical stores to use tech to immerse themselves in the digital age. And in some cases, we’re even seeing e-commerce brands switching gears to open locations and pop-ups.

The retail industry, above all the other ones, epitomizes the concept of putting the consumer first, whether that’s by using data to personalize their marketing strategies or taking advantage of emerging tech to meet evolving customer expectations and sometimes even surpassing them.

Some CEOs are convinced that AI is going to change consumer interactions with brand, some other ones believe that brick and mortar is obsolete and in the future, we are going to digitize the overall experience. One interesting statement from the global creative director at Facebook really caught our attention: “There’s a huge opportunity to rethink what a ‘storefront’ even is. On the other hand, people still crave tactile in-store experiences. So the opportunity is to observe how people are already using mobile while in-store and then build solutions that meet those needs or leverage that behavior

What does it mean for us marketers?

So, one thing for sure is that no matter what we might think it’s going to happen in the future we know that our shopping experience has changed because our behavior has changed. We still feel the need to know or imagine what a real product looks like, feels like, smells like, etc. So a physical experience can never be fully replaced (unless 3D printers become really good in the upcoming years), but what changed is mainly the objective of the brick and mortar store. A few years ago, we would go online to browse through catalogs, product ranges, etc. but the transaction used to happen in store. Nowadays the trend is totally the opposite. The store becomes the browsing experience but transactions and money exchange occur online. We are not there yet, but this paradigm shift will change our way of communicating and our marketing channel efforts.