Traditional retail formats are evolving to meet modern consumer demands. So said a session last week at the CREW Network Convention, a Virtual Event. In a breakout session, panelists talked about how to embrace omnichannel marketing, pros and cons of smaller and more targeted store formats, testing brand collaborations, pop-up stores and more.
According to Smita Butala, SVP of global real estate and associated general counsel at Ralph Lauren Corp., New York City’s The Polo Bar restaurant, did delivery for the first time during this time. “Many retailers have to rethink how to give the customer the same experience.”
Clinenteling became a really big thing, she said. “Figuring out how to sell but fulfill those sales through the in-store inventory and bringing that journey virtually is about creative thinking,” she said. “Bringing the experience to your front door and still give you that one on one connection.”
The consumer, she said, will always desire the touch and feel aspects of shopping. “It is an experience and the social interaction piece as well.” She adds that brick and mortar will still be relevant because people will always want to step out of their house and get that experience.
“Now more than ever, retailers are so focused on giving that customer service in a very unique way,” she said. “We just have to figure out how to integrate all the other competing things into one ecosystem.”
Many of the retailers Butala has spoken with have also shiften from high tourist venues and markets to local and regional consumers.
Panelist Gene Spiegelman, vice chairman and principal of RIPCO Real Estate LLC, said that a lot of the companies that have done well online are the ones who have done well over the past few years in managing their merchandise and inventory. “They are ones who have already built that into their model. Companies who were not prepared to do that had suffering sales because they couldn’t move their inventory around and make it available online.”
The biggest thing, he added, is the shift of the dominance of the urban marketplace to the suburban marketplace, as Butala mentioned. “That shift and migration from the urban center is probably one of the most dynamic changes that Covid has created. How will that shift affect retail? Will it give life to open air centers? Will it give malls that were on the B/C level, will it give them time to still exist? We will have to wait and see.”
Spiegelman said that we may lose a billion and a half square feet of retail space, but the sales have not gone away. “Where does all that inventory go? It isn’t like you are selling it less. It is a very complicated product. The sales are just moving around. That accelerated change will be interesting.”
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