As having one foot on the dock and one foot in the boat, the future of retailers in that Red Zone is not a pretty picture.
Granted, there is much talk about the expectation that "convenience" will become a major factor for shoppers going forward. And we don't disagree.
- Throughout 2020, millions of shoppers – including the older Baby Boomers – discovered the benefits of online shopping. Then, as brick-n-mortar retailers scrambled to survive, the increased availability of delivery, curbside pickup, BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup In Store) and BORIS (Buy Online, Return In Store) has been well received by a broad swath of consumers.
Here's the deal: We see that this has brought heightened awareness of two different retail strategies: Convenience Retailing versus Destination Retailing.
No matter which you choose, it will - and must - drive many of your other decisions: merchandise mix; vendor selection; employees; pricing; the store look; services offered; essentially everything!
That Uncertain/Undecided middle ground is not a viable choice. Those who end up there by default are on their first step to being former retailers!
What is demanded of Convenience Retailers?
It's more than "location, location, location!" Indeed, given all the work-from-home changes, including disruptions to commuting patterns, there is a considerable shift in what constitutes a "convenient location."
Convenience Retailers have a demanding set of priorities for success, as they are in that lower-margin-higher-volume game.
- Increased focus on time-saving efficiencies
- More automation
- More reliance on e-commerce and online shopping
- More "basic" ("essential") merchandise
- More price-and-item advertising focus
- More transactional
- More self-service
What is the other choice? To focus on being more of a Destination Retailer. Consider, for instance, fast food restaurants are "convenience retailers," whereas neighborhood sit-down restaurants are "destination retailers."
What is the focus of Destination Retailers?
- Discretionary items for those with discretionary income and discretionary time.
As such, stores of Destination Retailers tend to feature:
- Personal service
- Knowledgeable staff
- Relationship selling
- The shopping experience of discovery and delight
- The web and social media are used for personalized communications with shoppers
- FaceTime or Zoom shopping sessions with individual customers
- Unique merchandise
- Appointment shopping
- And efforts to bond with the customers.
Many retailers are today caught betwixt and between. Because of the improved performance of both Convenience Retailers and Destination Retailers, the consumers are responding positively.
Up to a year ago, being in the middle might have been acceptable. That is no longer true; that Red Zone is treacherous. Take this heads up to heart!