Yes, the customers are out there and they continue to shop in store more than online, at least for the time being. But there has to be a good reason and that’s where creative brick-and-mortar comes in.
For people like me who’ve never made and sold our own product, this seems like a big challenge. And I have to admire anyone who can marry their passion with a great product to come up with a creative brick-and-mortar solution.
True, there are plenty of valid retail formats that businesses can explore to stretch their creative brick-and-mortar thinking. Pop-up shops, markets, the store-within-a-store.
But creative brick-and-mortar goes beyond opening a door and hoping customers will step inside. It’s about knowing who that customer is first, what they want, and how best to get it to them. At least that’s what some recent examples of creative brick-and-mortar thinking seem to accomplish.
New York City commuters are always on the go and there are a ton of choices for them to quickly pick up a snack or a drink on their way. But New Stand launched its chain of convenience stores in 2015 to target millennials looking for healthier options when in a rush. New Stand set up small but sleek shops at busy locations where they sell snacks and a mix of other items, like natural beauty products, headphones, and greeting card, and ties in its brand with an app that signs customers up as members to receive special deals. The strategy has attracted customers and the company plans to open 20 more locations this year.
You probably know people who have eaten dough before it was baked into cookies. You may even be one of those people. Kristen Tomlan knew and launched an online business called DŌ, Cookie Dough Confections to match the public appetite for such a, well, decadent treat. When she realized there were no other stores in New York City that offered a similar product, she decided to open a brick-and-mortar flagship store, capitalizing on a niche market with a recognizable brand and a creative product experience.
Physical retail has to adopt digital strategies to unify their online and in-store shopping experience and customers expect it. A recent survey of 2,000 shoppers showed that 78% will buy or reserve a product before going into a store. While the above examples focused on small creative brick-and-mortar, a US furniture chain called The Mine has adopted technology to give customers 3D views of their luxury home furnishings products, with the goal of “wow”-ing customers over their products, whether they come to the store or shop online.
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