Bricks matter (even in a digital world)

Apr 27, 2015

I had this argument with a friend recently on bricks. What do you think? Is it still worth to invest in commercial facilities? Will brick-and-mortar stores disappear in the medium to long run? I am not that certain about that.

It is correct that we visit physical stores less than before. Recent studies show that millennials are not that much in-store buyers. But when we do visit, we spend more than before. As a consequence, each single store visit is becoming critically important for the retailer.

Bricks will never be the same again. Stores will probably become smaller, technology loaded, very interactive and omnichannel-oriented. However, we will always want to feel, smell and touch things at some point.

The real question is not about store existence. The real question is how to make sure it becomes a customer conversion wormhole. Or at least, a coherent experience in the customer journey to buy something.

Bricks matter!

One current experiment of Brickital is currently happening in Korea. In this virtual store, you can scan the barcodes of the products you want to purchase in the morning, for example, and your selected items are delivered at your home at night.

Another example is the ASICS Flagship store in Barcelona. This store, which is actually more a Lab, promises you the perfect shoe for your style, feet and activity.

Recently, I went through the experimentation of eBay’s magic mirror in a Rebecca Minkof Store in New York. Inside the dressing room, RFID tags attached to the clothing tell the mirror what clothes you have in your hand. You can scroll through different color and size options and choose among indoor, outdoor and nightlife lighting for a better idea of how an outfit might look outside the store…

Today, the stores get valuable data that for future targeting and that data is part of a coherent customer journey. Now imagine what this magic mirror could do in real time when the clothes you wear while entering the store are also embedded with tags informing the mirror what colors, dress type etc. you are wearing…

Of course, we can also think about Amazon’s “University” store in Indiana as another evidence that bricks are relevant… even for a pure player.

Stores will remain relevant in the future. But not in the way we know them. They will probably be smaller, more connected, digital intensive steroid  by in-store Wi-Fi, beacons, IoT, etc…

Revolution is on its way and for the very near future, imagination is at the helm for retailers and digital pure players to find the best way to lure customers to their platform.


Author: Eric Hiernaux. You can follow Eric on Twitter (@ehiernaux) or connect with him on LinkedIn