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 Eric Grindley, CEO and founder of Esquire Advertising.
What are the 3-5 top trends that will shape brick and mortar retail in 2021?
EG: Faced with increasing competition from e-commerce, brick-and-mortar retailers will continue to home in on their unique advantages while also inventing new ways to compensate for their respective drawbacks. For example, offline stores are increasingly experimenting with augmented reality technologies to allow customers to experience products in a more touchless and socially distant way. Many are also taking advantage of being located closer to their customers than nationwide e-commerce brands and being able to deliver items directly to customers’ homes faster.
What technologies will have the biggest impact on brick and mortar retail in 2021?
EG: The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the retail industry, forcing businesses to drastically change their approach to enticing customers into stores. With profit margins as slim as ever, and consumers increasingly reluctant to shop around, retailers will rely on cost-effective hyper-targeting advertising technologies like geoframing and real-time market analysis to balance their budgets and grow customer numbers at the same time. Big data platforms and AI-driven analytics will also continue to see wider implementation as these tools allow retailers to effectively anticipate customer demands and provide them with highly personalized shopping experiences, which will be the name of the game through 2021.
What should brick and mortar retailers be doing now to prepare for 2021?
EG: Months of social distancing and extended store closures have changed consumer habits and attitudes toward shopping at traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Esquire Advertising’s data shows that shoppers are now visiting only two stores on average for most of their purchases – down from an average of six. This, however, could change in 2021 as the COVID-19 vaccine becomes widely available and people feel safer about being in public. Brick and mortar retailers will have to be able to adjust to these behavioral shifts much faster than in the past in order to increase their resilience and maximize efficiency.
In the midst of so much change and uncertainty, what’s the future of brick and mortar retail look like?
EG: Even though many long-time retail brands have gone out of business in recent years in the face of the evolving economic landscape, on the whole, brick-and-mortar stores aren’t going anywhere. Rather, we will see the industry continue to evolve and the line between e-commerce and brick-and-mortar will continue to blur. More e-commerce brands will be launching offline stores as more traditional brick-and-mortar retailers will be diversifying their strategies by going online. In the end, all this should give consumers more options and bring exciting innovations into the industry.