JRNI CEO John Federman On The Future of Brick and Mortar Retail
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JRNI CEO John Federman 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 John Federman, CEO of JRNI.

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

 JF: In September 2020, we surveyed 2,000 consumers to understand the effects of COVID-19 on shopping behaviors — and what this means for retailers longer-term. Trends for the coming year include:

More personalized experiences. The standard transactional shopping process will be elevated to more of an experience — personal, safe, and one-on-one. While the pandemic drove social distancing, it also elevated the need for and importance of personalized experiences for consumers. 47% of consumers said the human-touch aspect represents an integral element of their retail shopping experience— one they increasingly crave, regardless of whether they shop online or in-person. 

Sustained new shopping methods. 36% of consumers surveyed checked out new shopping modes for brick and mortar, including remote personal shopping appointments and scan-and-go apps. Indications point to these behaviors enduring for 2021.

Appointment-based shopping. Many consumers expressed that the introduction of shopping by appointment proved a revelation during the pandemic, as they were hyper-wary of crowds or encountering in-store queues that could compromise their ability to maintain social distancing. They want retailers to continue to create more of these concierge-style services, so they can schedule and conduct a planned in-store consultation that is personalized around their individual needs.

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

JF: With consumers using a mixture of traditional online and in-store shopping, retailers will need to provide technologies that enable them to tailor the in-person shopping experience to their exact needs. In this new hybrid-shopping reality, consumers are seeking out truly optimized, agile, safe, and frictionless services that will enable them to engage on their terms.

 To help support this, technologies like appointment scheduling platforms and capacity management will have a large impact in the coming year.  In fact, 57% of consumers in our survey said that, post COVID-19, they are far more likely to schedule an appointment to visit a store than they were prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

 Also, the dramatic surge in digital shopping means brick and mortar retailers need to be prepared for a continued uptick in demand for omnichannel solutions, such as click-and-collect and curbside pickup.

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

JF: To encourage consumers to shop more in-store in 2021, brick and mortar retailers will need to ensure their physical and virtual offerings incorporate more individual service opportunities for consumers, as the lines between the online and in-store experience become increasingly blurred.

In addition, retailers will need to put control into the hands of consumers as they have varying degrees of fear and comfort with regards to being in-store and around other people. Ways to do that include allowing them to book an appointment time or virtually queue in the comfort and safety of their home or car while they’re awaiting entrance. 

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

JF: Moving into 2021, public health is still a significant concern, as is the fatigue of staying in and staring at a screen. As such, retailers will need to deliver more than strong products to get shoppers back into the stores. The experience economy is here, and that means consumers want to buy into more than a quick transaction. They want an experience that is personalized and unique to them, and it will be crucial for retailers to have the right technology to support that.  This includes the ability to match the right staff to consumers based on their needs, the ability to book time for a one on one experience eliminating the interruption of others as well as ensuring that capacity is managed for social distance requirements.

The great thing about a human-to-human connection is that retailers can use it to provide a relationship that is truly personalized. An example would be a customer who booked an appointment to visit the store and then is greeted by name by a staff member who has already picked out some items she thinks the customer might be interested in. Or a store assistant knowing the customer’s style and being able to suggest a new pair of boots based on the skirt she bought last week. 

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