Very few retail leaders would argue that the role of physical stores are the same as they were at the start of 2020. Most would agree that they are very different in direct response to the global pandemic. So what does this actually mean for physical stores today?
Where once upon a time retail business models had the luxury of evolving over years and often even decades, retailers over the last two years were forced to rapidly pivot their operations, change business models and even switch to unfamiliar, new ways of working.
These changes have included a rapid reset of the physical store to support the increase in ecommerce, ultimately delivering entirely new offerings such as curb-side pickup, cashless payment options, workflow enhancements to support profitability across an entire network of commerce, and connected retail experiences for consumers – whether shopping online, offline or both.
While it’s almost inevitable that ecommerce growth will outpace growth through physical stores at some point in the future, it would be a huge mistake to lose sight of the critical role stores have to play beyond simply profit. Brand health includes customer loyalty, the consumer experience journey and customer connectivity. And, make no mistake, physical retailers play a big part in this.
Quite simply, retailers need to rethink traditional ideas around assets and operations. It is not simply a matter of digital vs. physical anymore but rather it’s about how a brand can leverage all avenues in which their business connects to customers to deliver that truly remarkable customer experience journey.
The key to this lies in not being distracted by the minutiae of how an order is necessarily placed, but rather, concentrating on where it ultimately gets fulfilled.
For example, Target recently reported that as much as 75% of its online orders involved their stores in some capacity: be that buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS), curbside pickup, ship from store, local home delivery from store stock, or even buy online, return in store (BORIS).
21stcentury retailers need to understand that the store will remain a significant channel for generating revenue, customer engagement and fulfilment opportunities. This rapid evolution has led to an increased awareness and reliance on dynamic, resilient in-store systems that are critical to modern retail ecosystems, such as systems like the modern Point Of Sale (POS).
The Value of Modern POS
POS has certainly come a long way since the rather perfunctory function of previous generations. No longer is POS simply a tool to complete a transaction (including both sales and returns) but rather the modern POS represents the a core component of unified commerce, enabling activities such as endless aisle, click and collect, store fulfilment of online orders, clienteling, customer loyalty and more.
A compelling brick and mortar presence that works in harmony with a unified, smarter digital offering could be the answer to the question so many retail leaders right now have: How do we create a compelling competitive advantage against such a significantly changed industry landscape?
The role of the store has changed and therefore, in-store technology that supports it should change, as well. This however, should not come as a great surprise as the history of retail has always been one of change, evolution and progress. Though accelerated by the pandemic in our modern day, a consistency in retail is that change has been inevitable and will continue to be so.
With greater emphasis on the need to fulfil, execute and optimize against ecommerce and e-fulfilment, it is clear that the physical store when supported by modern POS and order management systems still have a significant role to play when it comes to confidently supporting a commerce landscape.
The store of yesteryear may be dead, but the store of today is undergoing somewhat of a renaissance. The challenge now falls to retailers to realize the true potential of their physical store assets by pairing them with the right future-ready, in-store systems like modern Point Of Sale.
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