OnBuy.com Head of Marketing Josh Brooks On The Future of Brick and Mortar Retail

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 Josh Brooks, Head of Marketing, OnBuy.com.

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

JB: Most physical-only stores will have no other choice than to set up an online store or sign up with an online marketplace to secure sales. The high street has already been severely impacted by the pandemic and, with no guarantee this will ever fully recover, businesses will need to explore alternative options in order to stay afloat. Other trends include a more widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies and alternative payment methods. For example, Fuse.io partnering with Monerium will enable sending real money to virtual wallets. The final trend that we’ve observed among our retailers, a significant shift towards locally-made items and sustainability as a whole.

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

JB: Advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality and augmented reality, will have a huge impact on brick and mortar retailers in 2021. Not only can they be used to enhance product displays and drive traffic to a company’s website, but they can also encourage customers back to the physical store bridging multiple sales channels and catching the shopper at the right time when they are ready to make a purchase no matter if the conversion occurs in the physical shop or online. Using virtual reality, retailers can create a compelling digital experience to add tangible value to in-store shopping, which can dramatically increase footfall to their store.

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

JB: If or when customers feel more comfortable returning to the high street, retailers may start to favour real-world interactive marketing over digital marketing to entice shoppers back to their physical stores. As the world reopens, so too will large-scale public events, which will give retailers a lucrative opportunity to capitalise on the crowds, provided they develop and implement a compelling marketing strategy. Also, retailers should have a contingency plan in place for a scenario of shoppers not returning to brick and mortar shops. That’s why this is a good moment to start working on their online presence and social media strategy.

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

JB: The future of brick and mortar retailers is just as uncertain as the current climate. OnBuy marketplace, saw a 10% increase in their seller base each month over the first three consecutive months of Q4, securing 600 new online retailers joining in November alone. This surge is partly due to many brick and mortar stores closing down, however, it’s not all doom and gloom. A store closing does not necessarily mean that the business has gone bust. In 2019 more than 14,000 retail units closed down but an estimated 6% reopened online and continue running a successful eCommerce business. This percentage should be higher. So, if your store is facing imminent closure, don’t shut down the business. Re-open online, the opportunities are endless.