There is one aspect in which George More is categorical: “The physical store without an online version can survive, the one that is only online and does without the physical, no”.
Jorge Mas is an expert in the retail world and managing partner of the consultancy create weapons and Vice President of La Boquería Market. He is also the author of several publications, most recently Power Retail, which is the title of a book he just published about “serving as encouragement and direction in difficult times,” such as the one retail walks through .
There is one anecdote from the book that he likes to highlight, and that is that the Superman symbol appears on the cover but replaces the hero’s S with an R, alluding to the power of all these businesses dedicated to retail to have. In other words, all those that reach the end consumer. Digitization and omnichannel are now opening up completely new possibilities, which you can only use properly.
Even before the pandemic, a kind of “apocalypse syndrome” in retail had been triggered by the closure of numerous shops. While there’s no concrete data, it’s believed that the pandemic has accelerated more closures, but it’s also true that new ones are springing up, encouraging some to speak of green shoots.
Jorge Mas acknowledges that the current moment is complicated, but he is also optimistic about the future of retail, a sector that is “very difficult and constantly evolving. What is valuable today is no longer valuable here tomorrow,” he says.
Which isn’t worth anymore
Some factors previously considered crucial to the success of a trade are losing weight, according to this expert.
The localization: For years, companies have considered the location of the physical store with special attention to the traffic of potential customers. With the online boom and mobility restrictions, this factor is becoming less important. With the arrival of fewer tourists and fewer people willing to travel for a purchase, nothing guarantees a good location will guarantee traffic. It is positive that in the most sought-after locations, the high rents no longer have to be paid. The big ones are doing it, like Inditex and its store adaptation plan that has resulted in the closure of 654 outlets with no negative impact on sales.
chain stores. This means companies such as franchises or chain stores that reproduce the same design and experience in each of their stores. According to Mas, this is also losing momentum.
The retail trade that prevails
In contrast, other factors are emerging that are gaining strength in retail going forward. These are some of those that Mas points out, warning that they apply to both the physical environment and the online environment:
design. You need to indulge, and a lot, especially if you’re looking to appeal to the millennial crowd. The paradigm always used in this case is Apple, where they take care of every detail of the design, both at the point of sale and on the products or packaging. “The visual is becoming more and more relevant”.
The formation. It’s over I’ve been in this business for 30 years and it’s always been good for me. You must understand that training is part of growing your business and that it is an investment, not an expense.
watch the rooms. In this case it refers to the way you manage the transit of customers through your point of sale, especially when it comes to Covid. When entering your store, the customer should perceive a feeling of spaciousness, hygiene and light.
The team. That, according to Mas, will make all the difference. Customer service, empathy for the consumer, sensitivity, knowing how to get in touch with them and their needs is key. “A frequently asked question is whether machines or robots can replace a salesperson. My answer is never, because a machine will never have the spontaneity that a relationship has with another person, nor the sensitivity. Of course, if instead of an empathetic person you are accompanied by another who looks like a policeman who only watches when you steal, when you give yourself the hydroalcoholic gel or when you wear the mask correctly, you still prefer to be of a hologram to be received”.
The product: Of course, if your product or service doesn’t add value, the chances are slim. But it is also important to communicate and apply branding both your business and your product.
digitalization. Again, there are no alternatives, but going digital means not just jumping into the digital store, but incorporating technology without the customer feeling like they are in a very tech store. For example, integrating software that helps control the flow, integrating new payment methods that avoid queues, or an updated database, something small businesses often ignore when knowing customers and targeting campaigns is important.
The experiences. Their importance lies in their ability to create emotions that last much longer than just walking through a store. So a good strategy to keep customers who are marrying less and less and to make your brand image sustainable in the long run.