Miami, FL--Remember when the future of retail was online? Now it seems that online retailers have decided they can’t get by without brick and mortar.
But, brick and mortar has a problem. The stores are there and they are filled with the latest in jewelry and fashion. They have the latest looks, sales, signs, cash registers and all the rest. Only one problem. Where are the consumers?
Shoppers are just not coming through the doors. Mall traffic is said to be down 11% last month and even some of its most popular tenants are suffering. Surprisingly, Victoria’s Secret has had a decline of 16%! It’s the worst decline in traffic ever for them.
Firms like Retail Next follow traffic at specialty stores and they have tracked 3 years of steady decline. So where is everybody? Who knows, but we do know they’re not at malls or department stores, and there is no one single good reason why!
Some shoppers are ditching full price stores in favor of off-price retailers (i.e., TJ Max, Marshalls, et al.) Those stores are seeing traffic and slight sales increases. More and more business is being done online, and people are increasingly opting to spend money on an experience that makes flashy Instagram updates, instead of buying “stuff.”
I feel that after the recession, people started thinking about life more holistically and thought more about where their money should go. Millennials are known for saying they do not want to tie their money up in a car or other big expenses but would much rather spend their money on something more exotic like going to Europe or Thailand to have “The Experience.”
Now for the first time, jewelry and luxury handbags are competing with wine and travel. Seems consumers’ minds are broader and “malls” just seem crass now. Nobody wants to post a picture of themselves at a mall. They want posts of climbing mountains, traveling across Europe, or at restaurants with friends eating and drinking amazing creations.
Retailers are trying harder than ever to bring people in their stores. The retailer and the consumer are looking for a way to gain inspiration, and incentive and they enjoy discovering truly enjoyable shopping. Yeah! This one’s for me!
Stores that have remodeled, like two I’ve seen recently in Los Angeles and Texas, are learning that as they bring in a new experience, it also brings new traffic to the stores.
You must think about how the “smart network” comes together. I think the retailer is the brand and we know that brands play an important role. Retailers that provide that in-store experience know that this is critical in branding their store. Being in the right neighborhood always helps as we all know, location is key. But now we also know, from a digital standpoint, more and more guests are ordering online and will then go to the store for that “instant gratification” pick-up. This is great news for retailers. Once they enter your store, hopefully you’ll inspire them to shop more.
That is how Preferred Retailers do it. The program automatically reminds guests that it’s time for them to come in to update their warranty. No purchases, just come in and let us check everything for you. It’s easier to get a guest into your store for an experience and to be taken care of than a trunk show where you’re just asking them to buy! Once the consumer is back in your store, it’s time to get transactions started by offering them more.
We all need new experiences and initiatives plus a way to integrate the web experience with a brick and mortar experience. I feel there needs to be a blending of the digital and personal experience across the customer’s entire shopping journey.
So, I see the solution to retail traffic woes, for now, seems to be a combination of better stores, better brands, and a better connection to the web and of course one thing that they can never get enough of: excellent customer service.
Be careful, be mindful, and watch the world around you, it’s all way more organic than you may think. Consumers are always the ones driving everything. Creating experiences for your consumers will keep you in the game. --Andie
Andie Weinman, president and CEO of Preferred Jewelers International / Continental Buying Group Inc., was born with the “Jewelry Gene” working in the jewelry industry since she was only ten years old. Her first job was as a cashier in the opening of a catalog showroom doing a fantastic job even at that tender age. Andie holds a B.A. in musical theatre and a B.S. in marine biology from The University of Tampa. When she realized that seawater and marine biology were not good on her hair and she wasn’t quite good enough to make it on Broadway, the jewelry business beckoned. Andie has picked diamonds, sorted color stones, shot waxes and performed a multitude of jobs in the manufacturing of jewelry. Her negotiating experience and prowess has given her the reputation as being tough but fair in her dealings with vendors. In 2012 the Indian Diamond and Color Association awarded Andie the Prestigious Doyenne Award of the Year.