Is online the be-all and end-all of retail? Peter Veash recently shared his opinions on the growing trend for online-only retailers to have physical presence on our high street in an article for Retail Gazette.
In Let’s get physical (again) – the return of bricks and mortar he explores the resurgence of retail physical spaces, with the news that eBay may open physical concessions inside Sainsbury’s stores after the supermarket acquired the £1.4bn Home Retail group, as well as Dyson launching its first flagship store on Oxford Street. “Could it be that we’re finally seeing a resurgence of physical retail spaces following years of digital dominance? eBay and Dyson are the latest in a long line of retailers confirming what many in the industry have suspected all along – online is undoubtedly powerful, but nothing quite beats the impact of having a physical presence for consumers when combined with a slick online operation.”
Peter comments that retailers are using physical space in a new way, complementing their online offerings and creating an environment more like a showroom than a traditional shop. “This is key to understanding the renaissance of physical retail spaces – yes, online is indeed convenient, quick and efficient, but customers seem to have spoken in favour of a more holistic approach to choosing products; one which allows them to experience them physically as well as on a screen. It’s not surprising that the retailers who are responding the fastest are e-commerce heavyweights like eBay, Amazon and Dyson, which have lorded it over the e-commerce arena for decades and therefore have an intimate understanding of what makes the modern consumer tick.”
Peter goes on to highlight the particular advantages of having physical space: giving customers confidence and therefore cutting down on returns, click and collect, making it easier for those out at work to pick up their parcels, and the possibilities for brand-building – a particular challenge online. He finishes by saying: “We can expect to see many more of these pop-ups, showrooms, and flagship stores cropping up in the near future as more retailers start to find unique ways of introducing a physical presence back into their operations – it turns out you can’t beat good old fashioned bricks and mortar after all.”
For more industry insights, read our white paper The return of the high street: how technology has created a new future for retailers.