The increasing popularity of online shopping, combined with years of chronic overbuilding and shifting consumer preferences, has led to what some are calling the “retail apocalypse.” While the word “apocalypse” is probably much too dramatic, it’s true that traditional retail is experiencing a downturn.
The most recent example of the ongoing issues in retail is the bankruptcy filing of Toys “R” Us, which occurred after unsuccessful attempts to reverse the company’s lagging profits. An article in the Harvard Business Review discusses the Toys “R” Us bankruptcy and whether it truly indicates an “apocalypse” for traditional retail.
According to the article, the current changes in the retail industry are nothing new. Fifty years ago, department stores became popular in urban centers, while the rise of the automobile led to suburbs and shopping malls. A number of big box discount stores, including Toys “R” Us, opened, attracting consumers looking for a wide variety of available items and low prices.
Now, 50 years later, consumers are again looking for variety and low prices – and they’re finding it online and in mass retailers. More fundamentally, the article states, “the basic function of a physical location has changed.” Previously, the brick and mortar store was the only place at which a transaction could take place. Now, sales take place anywhere, any time.
If retailers are going to succeed in this new 24/7 industry, they need to do more than simply offer sale transactions. They need to offer a service, solve problems, build relationships and, ideally, upsell.
Another innovative idea is the “shoppable showroom,” in which customers can do everything they’d normally do in a retail store – get fitted for clothing, test new items, place orders and make returns – but at a store in which no actual inventory is stocked.
Whatever the ultimate strategy, the article encourages retailers not to double down on a losing tactic, but to be aware of the trends and shift efforts to meet what customers want now.
As retailers navigate the changing landscape, Retail Tech is there to help with a wide variety of new and refurbished POS equipment. We offer installation and staging, PoS printer repairs, and more. Contact our POS systems specialists for help finding the perfect point of sale solution for your retail store.