Tshiamo Tladi
Tshiamo Tladi

A fighting chance for retail in an ecommerce era

by Tshiamo Tladi. Retailers should revisit all the touchpoints that really make the in store retail experience indominable against online and ecommerce.

by Tshiamo Tladi. Retailers should revisit all the touchpoints that really make the in store retail experience indominable against online and ecommerce. Over several decades, retail stores have evolved beyond offering simple shopping convenience to being a hub of immersive in store activity and experiences intended to delight and surprise shoppers. However, the advent of ecommerce and the rapid move to gear up to deliver direct from store to door has put in store retail activity under considerable threat for future relevance.

Despite the prevalent need to still be able to physically see and assess items in person remaining important to consumers, this presents retail stores the opportunity to surprise and delight shoppers in a manner that they can endear and start looking forward to their next trip to store. The retail space remains the quintessential place to bring the consumer and shopper experience to life in the most engaging and immersive way possible and we need retailers to hone in on harnessing that as a strength to fend off the threat of ecommerce on in store traffic.

Elevate retail touchpoints

One of the ways retailers have explored improving the in-store experience for shoppers has been through the introduction of technology. Technology has been a great way to increase engagement with retail categories but it hasn’t done much to enhance the overall utility of the total retail experience. Where ecommerce affords consumers efficiency to navigate and browse, the in-store environment affords consumers and shoppers the opportunity to be surprised and speak to their impulse, without being as intrusive as an unprompted pop-up screen before online check out.

Retailers must explore ways to elevate retail touchpoints to stations that arrest, engage and delight the shopper’s ins tore mission in a manner that makes it feel truly worth the entire trip. Surely, the same way that COVID-19 has changed the way in which many consumers shop for groceries; retailers could also look at new ways to attract consumers and shoppers back into store again by offering them something more meaningful beyond deeper discounts only.

We need to offer shoppers more than just the feeling of COVID-19 safety being in place. Knowing that the proliferation of technology will see more integration of technology with the in store environment, retailers should hone in on the tangible experiences that make the shopping experience memorable and delightful enough to encourage repeat visits. It could possibly be an exploration of a hybrid experience of online or mobile touchpoints that invite deeper engagement with both routinely and non-routinely shopped categories; where online is limited to efficient check-out backets and online promotional codes.

How can retail revitalise itself in order to compete?

Where digital has afforded consumers convenience, let’s make the in-store experience a must-do destination and that affords the space and time to create a deeper connection with their much-loved shopping categories. For example, when was the last time you just explored different chocolates for a new favorite? When was the last time, you explored a different make of cheese or cut of meat or type of citrus fruit?

  • Immerse shoppers in their favorite categories within the retail environment.
  • Invite both consumers and shoppers to explore categories beyond the routinely shopped ones.
  • Tapping into the shopper’s interest points, we can take their shopping mission beyond quick checkouts and afford them the opportunity to explore and browse more categories.

There is a vast array of ‘retail only’ experiences that can only be enjoyed in store. Retailers need to exploit these to entice patronage with their retail brand beyond the convenience of online. In retailers identifying these ‘hero’ touchpoints and focusing on building into destinations, it allows us to take shopping for categories into a truly immersive and experiential space that entices patronage.

There is a white space opportunity to make the in store retail environment more conducive to deliver on the social need to interact with another person to better understand and explore routinely shopped categories in a new way. An example of how this could come to life, is with Sportscene in Sandton City or the We Are Egg retail concept store in Cavendish Square, Cape Town. Both retail brands have elevated their in-store experience beyond convenience shopping categories to be truly immersive and experiential. It invites shoppers to make it a destination and increases dwell time shopping in more categories.

Additionally, both stores have also blurred the lines between in store and online shopping in such a seamless manner that it brings the consumer right into the lifestyle consumption occasion while you shop. In this instance, Sportscene has done well. They have gone as far as to open up their retail space as a space for brands to also host events with consumers so they can engage deeper and have a chance to make a purchase.

It is important for retailers to remember that they are custodians and conduits to product and brand worlds within the in store environments. The greater utility a consumer or shopper has with an experience the greater the affinity they have to spend more with that particular brand or experience. It should be imperative for retailers to explore new ways to make the shopping experience more novel and worth repeat patronage. There is equally an avenue for retailers to better collaborate and work with brand owners to serve providing branded spaces that also answer the social experience needs of consumers and shoppers. Technology affords us the ability to make this happen more seamlessly, than simply with displays and video content on repeat. Make the experience of engaging more rewarding for every stop.


Main image credit: Photo by Victor Garcia on Unsplash .



Tshiamo Tladi is Strategy Director at 34 Degrees, the specialist through-the-line and retail agency. This article includes contributions from Melody Ndlovu, Strategy & Insights Manager at 34 Degrees. Tladi is a seasoned strategist and shopper marketer with years of experience developing winning strategies that have guided creative work and commercial growth from both agency and client side.


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