The Virtual Shopping Mall: Emerging e-commerce trends impacting the retail space

 March 29, 2018


It’s easy to say that with massive online retailers like Amazon, and all your favorite stores offering expedited shipping and free delivery, that retail stores are a dying breed. After all, who wants to go to a store and actually pick out their items when they have endless options for products to be brought directly to their front door?


Sure, logically this all makes sense. Everything is going online. It’s just a matter of time before strip malls are filled with empty store fronts and gallerias are repurposed as fulfillment centers, right? Well, not quite.


It’s merely changing the way retailers work


Sure, some retailers may be closing their doors in the new year, but it’s not for the reason you may think. Most of the stores with mass closings, like JC Penney’s and SEARS, are not doing so because their online sales are through the roof, it’s because they aren’t innovating. Period.


For retailers that have a huge online following like Uniqlo, TopShop, H&M, and Forever 21 they aren’t closing their stores but instead trying to emulate the strategies that are working online. These retailers are making their stores more impactful and inviting for their online audience as well.


A Focus on the Experience and Strategy


Retailers are beginning to focus more on bringing the online experience into their stores. They’re offering the option to try on the clothes in the store and have them shipped instead of shoppers having to carry around their shopping bags all day – no pesky returns needed. And for those wanting instant gratification for their online purchases, or to try on items – they are also offering the option to order online and pick up in store. No extra trips to the UPS store to return something that doesn’t fit.


In addition to offering more options, the brick and mortar stores are becoming so much more than just a place to pick up your items as they begin to focus more on the overall brand and experience. They are beginning to narrow in on the fine line between the online and in-person world of their brands. There is more of a focus on the visual elements in stores, their focus on social media, and a consistency with their online environments.


Innovation in Stores


While shoppers now have more options, retailers are changing the level of convenience within their stores to make the experience more inviting. More retailers are offering mobile payments at the point-of-sale, and some are even offering mobile apps and maps of their stores to make shopping more convenient and efficient.


Online Data to Improve Brick-and-Mortar Sales


Retailers are also beginning to innovate when it comes to how they use their online data. It’s much easier for retailers to test the positioning of their products online with frequent changes, while moving around their in-store displays on a daily or hourly basis isn’t quite practical.


By leveraging their online data to determine the displays that drive the most online traffic, they can use that important information in their in-store strategy to drive more foot traffic through their front doors.


It’s no secret that the retail world is changing as consumers’ needs shift. But that doesn’t mean that the retail store no longer serves a purpose. Companies will only become smarter and savvier about how they drive traffic to their retail locations and the kind of experience their customers have there.