Alex MacPherson discusses the changing role of the retail store

The store is dead, long live the store

Few in retail circles would argue that the role of the store is the same as it was at the start of 2020, with the retail industry (like every other on the planet) having undeniably changed as a result of the global pandemic.

Where once retail business models had the luxury of evolving over years or even decades, retailers over the past two years have been forced to rapidly pivot their operations, change business models and to move on (in many cases) to new, unfamiliar ways of doing things. work.

These changes have included the diversification of the physical store to support the increase in e-commerce; offering completely new offers

such as curbside pickup; and realigning workflows and processes to support profitability across an entire network, not just a single site.

While it’s almost inevitable that the growth of e-commerce will outpace the growth of brick-and-mortar stores at some point in the future, it would be a huge mistake to lose sight of the critical role stores must play beyond just profitability, but also in terms of softer measures of brand health, including loyalty and the overall customer experience journey.

The key to this is not being distracted by the details of how an order is necessarily placed, but instead focusing on where it is ultimately fulfilled.

For example, Target recently reported that up to 75% of its online orders relate to their stores in some way: whether it’s buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) , curbside pickup, ship from store, local home delivery from store stock or even buy online, return to store (BORIS).

Due to (rather than despite) the rapid growth of digital channels in 2020 and 2021, 21st century retailers need to understand that the store will remain an important channel for driving revenue, customer engagement and business opportunities. ‘execution.

This rapid evolution has led to an increased awareness and reliance on dynamic and resilient in-store systems essential to modern retail ecosystems – systems such as modern point-of-sale (POS).

The POS has certainly come a long way from the rather superficial function of previous generations: the POS is no longer simply a tool for carrying out a transaction (sale or return) and the associated reporting; The modern point of sale represents the key to unified commerce today, enabling activities such as endless aisle, click and collect, in-store fulfillment of online orders, customer base and loyalty.

While the store may no longer be the sun around which all retail offerings revolve, a compelling physical presence that works in harmony with a unified, smarter digital offering may well be the answer to the question about lips of so many retail leaders. right now: “How can we create a compelling competitive advantage in the face of such a profoundly changed industry landscape?”

The role of the store has changed, and so has the in-store technology that supports it. This should come as no big surprise, however, as the history of the retail industry has always been one of change, evolution and progress – the current environment, accelerated by the pandemic, is no different. .

With greater emphasis on the need to fulfill, execute and optimize e-commerce and online fulfillment, it is clear that the physical store, supported by modern point-of-sale systems, has still an important (if not changed) role to play when it comes to being able to trade with confidence.

While the store of yesteryear is well and truly dead, today’s store is experiencing something of a renaissance. The challenge now falls to retailers to realize the true potential of their brick-and-mortar marquee assets by pairing them with the right future-ready in-store systems like modern point-of-sale.

For a list of sources used in this article, please contact the editor

Manhattan Associates
Alex MacPherson is director of solution consulting and account management at Manhattan Associates, a technology leader in supply chain and omnichannel commerce. It unifies information across the enterprise, converging front-end sales with downstream supply chain execution. Its software, platform technology and unparalleled experience contribute to both top line growth and profitable bottom line results for customers.

Manhattan Associates designs, builds, and delivers industry-leading cloud solutions so that across the store, through your network, or from your distribution center, you’re ready to reap the rewards of the omnichannel marketplace.

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