Austin Carr just published “The Future of Retail in the Age of Amazon,” in Fast Company on the 24th of November. In it, he outlines four key takeaways for how successful retailers are innovating and evolving to remain competitive with their brick-and-mortar experiences.
“Retail is under huge pressure, but the death of stores is greatly exaggerated,” says [NYU Stern professor of marketing Scott Galloway], who believes that while Amazon will continue to disrupt the market, an increasing number of competitors will discover new ways to respond. “In the age of Amazon, retailers must leverage assets that [Bezos] doesn’t have: When Amazon zigs, retailers must zag.”
Here are four suggestions for remaining relevant in the “Age of Amazon”:
- Feature products that customers can’t get elsewhere.
Target is a shining example of this: “craft a collection of mass-market housewares, partnering with high-end fashion designers like Isaac Mizrahi for custom fashion lines, and nurturing emerging brands such as Method through forward-thinking curation.” The modern-day version includes brands like Cat & Jack, “a boutiquey children’s decor line called Pillowfort, a modern furniture collection called Project 62, an athleisure apparel line for the post-yoga brunch crowd called JoyLab, and a dapper menswear brand called Goodfellow & Co.”
- Focus on delivering a satisfying experience.
“Big retailers and digital-native consumer brands alike cite Warby Parker as an inspiration and seek to mimic, even reverse engineer, what they believe is the core of its hip but inviting store experience. But refashioning stores with a certain wood finish or outfitting employees in a distinctive smock doesn’t make you Warby Parker any more than painting your store white makes you Apple.”
- Challenge the fundamental assumptions of commerce.
While “in-store augmented reality, drone delivery, or bitcoin payments” may be “gimmicky distractions,” try to think differently about “how physical space can be monetized.” Think about how you can offer new experiences in-store such as stylists, fittings, and product trials and demos.
- Resurrect the Art of Selling.
“Whereas the traditional rules of brick-and-mortar dictate that sales matter above all else, store associates at MartinPatrick3 are encouraged to dole out sincere fashion advice, and if it means counseling a guest away from a higher-priced item or directing him to competitors’ shops, so be it. The payback comes in the lasting relationships such honesty builds.”
“Retailers don’t need to chase a futuristic version of themselves that they might never attain; they first need to remember what made them special in the first place.”