Is brick-and-mortar dead? With a record 7,000 store closings and 662 bankruptcy filings last year, and 3,800 closings (and counting) so far in 2018, the fate of retail continues to look uncertain. Take a look at Amazon to see how ecommerce has changed the retail landscape as we know it, leaving no industry undisrupted. With just a click of a mouse, customers can purchase whatever they want, whenever they want it — and have it shipped directly to their door.
While ecommerce offers unprecedented convenience, this is not the end of the road for brick-and-mortar. Customers still value in-store experiences. In fact, two out of three consumers think apparel brands should focus more on improving experiences both in-store and online, as opposed to focusing solely on their online presence.
Improved in-store services and experiences will keep brick-and-mortar stores afloat, but only if retailers look to new and innovative ways to re-engage with customers. Take, for example, Sephora. The beauty retailer is using AI to personalize the in-store shopping experience with its Color IQ technology. This tool uses machine learning to scan consumers’ skin and provide them with personalized skincare and makeup recommendations based on their needs. Sephora’s brick-and-mortar locations have produced more than 14 million Color IQ matches since its launch in 2012. This not only adds a touch of personalization to the user experience, but it also frees up time for employees to focus on other touchpoints within the customer journey. Employees can now place more emphasis on showing consumers how to use their Color IQ recommended products and promoting complimenting goods.