COHN Marketing Senior Brand Director CJ Powell On The Future of Brick and Mortar Retail
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COHN Marketing Senior Brand Director CJ Powell On The Future of Brick and Mortar Retail

Dec 22, 2020

This article is part of Raydiant’s Future of Brick and Mortar Retail series featuring interviews with industry experts and thought leaders with the goal of providing actionable insights that can help brick and mortar retailers prepare for what lies ahead.  

The following is an interview we had with CJ Powell, Senior Brand Director at COHN Marketing.

What are the 3-5 top trends that will shape brick and mortar retail in 2021?

CP: As was the case in 2020, convenience and contactless customer experiences are going to be the most important trend in 2021 for brick and mortar retailers. Adaptability will also continue to be an incredibly important trend for retailers in 2021, requiring brick and mortar stores to do more and to be more for their local community in order to continue to win customers. 

What technologies will have the biggest impact on brick and mortar retail in 2021? 

CP: The technologies that will have the biggest impact on brick and mortar retail in 2021 are contactless payments and pay ahead services. Apple Pay and other contactless payment services make the customer experience safer and easier. This can help customers feel valued and create a lasting experience so that people will remember your brand.

What should brick and mortar retailers be doing now to prepare for 2021? 

CP: Brick and mortar retailers should be focusing on their branding and marketing now.  It’s often said that nothing tests your brand like a crisis, and 2020 has been one long repeating crisis in perpetuity. While the world carries on and adjusts to the next normal, every business and entrepreneur should be laser-focused on defining (or refining) its brand. As the great Simon Sinek artfully outlined in his legendary TED Talk, brands that thrive live in the world of WHY. Why does your brand exist? Why do you get up in the morning every day? Why should your customers care? Why should anyone care? During times like these, your WHY matters more than ever. It gives you a North Star in the darkness to help you navigate toward smoother seas. It simplifies your decision-making process by cutting to the heart of every issue. And it adds an unbreakable emotional component to every sale you make, because your customers will be buying your WHY and not your product. If you haven’t looked at your brand strategy in a while—many companies haven’t—now is the exact right time to do so. 

In the midst of so much change and uncertainty, what’s the future of brick and mortar retail look like? 

CP: The future of brick and mortar retail could be grim for those who fail to adapt. However, brick and mortar retailers who create memorable experiences, use technology to make people feel safer, and create a strong brand can survive and thrive.

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