Editor’s Note: March ’17

asked about 7 years ago

The Digital Revolution

The Digital Revolution has turned global retail on its head, with the US now the world’s most developed ecommerce market. And the ecommerce giants aren’t going away. On the contrary, as their product offerings expand, along with their engaged, loyal user base and logistical reach, the allure of retailers is only growing, with the Malls and Strip Centers firmly in their crosshairs.

But with many retailers heavily invested in real estate, with hundreds or thousands of expensive physical locations, they need their square footage to work harder for them in order to survive. Because, in a world where “going shopping” increasingly means reaching for an internet-enabled device that instantly connects you to an infinite catalogue of products that can be purchased, delivered, tried on and then either kept or returned from the comfort of your home, physical stores need to offer something more to customers.

As we’re seeing from the most innovative consumer brands, dedicating physical space to non-sales activities can create moments that no digital experience can match. Brands like Nike and Whole foods have always adopted experience-led shop floors, giving customers a playful, try-before-you-buy environment. The Nike ID Bar lets you pick your trainer of choice, individually design every aspect and “print” your own, totally unique pair of shoes, all through a touch screen. Whole Foods have reinvented the grocery store with a truly innovative concept store. Their 50,000 square foot space in Austin, Texas offers immersive experiences including Candy Island, where customers can dip fresh strawberries in a chocolate fountain

Technology has made every single part of our world reflect, react and innovate. If the retail locations that built these companies’ successes are to survive and continue to compete with the younger, leaner new kids (not) on the block, they need to inject innovation to their property portfolios.

Discounted leases and rents will only offer short term relief. Retail will continue to evolve, and as the above examples show, creativity within physical space can still drive brand love, loyalty and, sales. And with an almost unlimited range of options for consumers, only the innovators will survive.