Revamping our brick-and-mortar stores

We already know that, as Ecommerce is booming, our traditional brick-and-mortar stores are losing their exclusive role of distribution-points for goods.

That’s a fact, but not necessarily a negative one: physical stores are not anachronistic, on the contrary, they can play a new and far more important role – they’re the place to feel, live and breathe the value of products and of brands.

My point is: brick-and-mortar stores offer a shopping experience that cannot be replicated online because it is material, sensorial and experiential – the shopper interacts with real products (…and possibly with nice, consultative store-associates), not through miserable 200×300-pixel images and three-line text descriptions.

Let me list the most significant reasons Shoppers visit physical stores:

  • “I can experience products before purchasing”
  • “I like the instant gratification of taking an item home”
  • “I shop and spend social time with friends and family”
  • “I can get a personalized service”

An example: wineries and wine-tasting – how many people that visit a winery and taste wine DON’T buy at least a couple of fine, expensive bottles…?

Let’s turn our physical stores into fantastic, social and thrilling settings, with new levels of involvement, relationship and value.

Let’s transform them into a new type of destination that replicates the charm and attractiveness of a disco (…or maybe an art gallery? …or both?).

French writer Emile Zola, in his novel “Au Bonheur des Dames” (The Ladies’ Delight) compares department stores to cathedrals because of their magnificent buildings, their role in society and – …think of customer-experience! – their ability to attract and enchant Shoppers.

If you prefer another analogy, let’s treat retail as Media, curating our merchandise every month (…or every week…?), like magazines do with their content.

I’ll tell you a secret: every item we sell has a long-tail narrative attached to it; accordingly, stores have the opportunity to become mighty “story-telling”-points that we can employ to effectively share and promote our *STORIES*, stimulate Shoppers about our products and then direct them to one of our sales-channel: the physical store itself, our ecommerce website, etc.

Physical stores are still – and will be in the future – the only true product-value amplifier and the best advertisement-vehicle for our brand/brands; here is our homework: let’s radically improve the shopping-experience created by our stores – if it’s not communicative, distinctive, outstanding and unforgettable, we’re in big trouble…

Andy Cavallini  –


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