Why the Role of Brick-and-Mortar Is the Next Big Thing We Need to Rethink

Keith Sherry
Keith Sherry
Guest Contributor

Brick-and-mortar is alive and still serves its purpose, but any retailer who's hoping to maintain or grow physical retail knows that changing consumer habits are driving us to rethink the store and the role stores play in the shopper experience.

[Note: This article was originally published on the SATO Global Solutions blog, Tuesday, December 5, 2017.]

Intel’s Jon Stine, one of my cohorts in the Acuitas Digital Alliance, just blogged about the need to rethink retail in light of how shoppers actually behave, become loyal to retail brands and make purchases today. And you know what, he’s right.

Despite all attempts by the media to kill off physical stores, Black Friday 2017 stats from NRF show that more than 50 million people shopped exclusively IRL (in real life, as the kids would say). Another 64 million shopped both online and in physical stores.

So, brick-and-mortar is alive and well, and for now, still serving its purpose. But any retailer that’s hoping to maintain or grow brick-and-mortar knows that changing consumer habits are driving us to rethink the store and the role stores play in the customer experience.

For retailers, rethinking means giving shoppers an offline experience that acts more like an online one. It’s stocking exactly what shoppers want, the moment they want it, and making sure they know how to find it. It’s managing inventory in a way that matches demand with supply. And don’t forget – we need to provide all the amazing, personalized “moments” that exist in the digital world that upsell and create a fun, inspiring experience.

Working with our Acuitas partners, SATO Global Solutions has tested and trialed ways to make all this happen, using software and technologies that are available right now. We’re showing our joint solutions at NRF 2018, and we’ll talk about the retailers who are rethinking their business models to embrace this new idea of what a store can be.

By tapping into IoT, RFID, smart labels and sensor solutions, mobile devices and displays, retailers can suddenly get 360-degree view of inventory. And, by collecting data and intelligently sharing it with those who need it, we enable all the other features that we need to bring the idea of the “new store” alive.

In a “new store,” shoppers can identify what’s in stock and where it lives in the store. They can interact with digital concierge services in the dressing room and request a new size from an associate with the touch of a button. Store associates can immediately restock products and “rescue” items that have been abandoned by shoppers outside of their display areas. A network of alerts and insightful reports can even help retailers figure out what’s selling and why – in real time.

Through cloud, we can provide data comparisons of multiple stores – giving retailers a comprehensive picture of overall store operation, including inventory counts, customer footfall and employee productivity. We might be brick-and-mortar, but with IoT, physical barriers can be overcome – allowing retailers to use game-changing technology to make the idea of the “new store” your customer’s favorite destination.

About the writer: Keith Sherry is COO of SATO Global Solutions (SGS) where he is responsible for leading the strategic development of the SGS suite of IoT products and services for retail and supply chain.

Join the #retail conversation with Keith on LinkedIn and Twitter at @AcuitasDigital and www.facebook.com/acuitasdigital.