Last year, major department stores such as Macy’s and Sears proclaimed the closure of hundreds of stores across the country, resulting in a near shopping panic during the final Black Friday sales.
They weren’t the only retail chains to do so. Around 108 Kmart and 42 Sears stores announced both losses and closure, while Macy's disclosed it was working to restructure and redefine management, announcing plans to shut down 100 stores. The huge chain announced spending would be focused on fashion-forward in-store concepts, as well as website strategy, to attract more e-commerce clients. Many other mall staples, like Aeropostale, Wet Seal and The Limited are in the process or emerging from bankruptcy.
Today's e-commerce offers convenience and speed, and so giants like Amazon.com continue on a winning streak, gaining even more loyal customers as a result of retail closings.
Those retail brands that are still operational as usual — Target, Walmart and Kohl’s, for example — can’t let their guard down, however. There is constant pressure to make retail shopping the consumer’s choice, even over e-commerce.
As the New Year kicks off with season sales, does it mean that consumers will continue to move more toward e-commerce?
The answer seems to be a resounding "yes." Direct-to-customer (DT) business already grew over 71 percent in the last year, with over a third of consumers admitting having purchased directly from their favorite brand’s online portals.
Social engagement and online networking savvy had a lot to do with this surge. Brands who could continue to connect with shoppers at the flick of their wrists or tap of the finger had instant access to a growing market trend.
How Will Shopping Malls be Reshaped in the Near Future?
This depends on the consumer trends driving current shifts in shopping behavior.
In 2017, with open social media profiles and longer digital footprints, retailers will find it easier to access the shopping history and online behavior of shoppers.
Today’s shoppers want the insta-life, and they're likely to expect much more of it in the months to come. We see more experiential shoppers enjoying virtual reality as it feeds their need for instant gratification.
No waiting long months to purchase that luxury item, when they can easily buy it at a runway show. Chains that want to stay on top of their game need to learn how to react as instantly and provide the younger shoppers with that feeling of satisfaction.
“Media is becoming the store,” says Doug Stephens, author of "The Retail Revival." He predicts that the two will converge even more in 2017, making experiential media the focus. Chains will have to look into new added-value and loyalty services to hold on to their customers but also provide a great product experience instantly. "One-click and it’s yours" will continue to prevail.
Nike and L’Oreal remain examples of brands that continue to provide great e-commerce solutions. They focus on digital storytelling and keep the conversation going with their consumers through constant social engagement, inviting them to be a part of that story.
McMillan Doolittle’s Mara Devitt tells us that subscription services are helping some retailers to boost their brands again.
“Retailers in all segments need to think differently about how they’re enabling shoppers to experience the merchandise and pay,” she says, citing Trendsend by Evereve, MM.LaFleur and Stitch Fix.
In conclusion, it seems we will see more of a digital shift. E-commerce software will take center stage. Digital marketers will continue to provide products through brand strategies that target shopper's emotions.
Retail brands will move more towards mobile shares as trend forecasters expect global e-commerce to grow this coming year by as much as 70 percent. This is classified as a shift, not necessarily a radical transformation, as retailers are already accustomed to providing customers with the ideal ecommerce experience.
With in-store shopping experiences, retailers will have to focus on less inventory and more interactivity to keep their clients engaged.