Why In-Store Shopping Could Be Cool Again

Photo Credit: Orbitz

Target and Best Buy recently announced they’ll be matching online competitors’ prices this holiday season in their latest bid to draw back customers from leading online retailers.

Contrary to what some are predicting, brick and mortars may not be completely doomed. They’re on a mission to prove that “retail therapy” offers a more personalized experience that tops eBay’s. Word of advice: don’t ever lose your phone—mobile’s leading the way in this revolution.

Check out the top five reasons why you might actually leave the couch to go holiday shopping again someday soon:

1. The Age of Mobile Deals

“May I help you?” Um, probably not. One study revealed that, “45 percent of shoppers (up from 35 percent last year) said online peer reviews” play a major role in their decision to purchase a product. The good news for retailers (and snubbed sales associates) is that 43 percent of those people are pretty likely to snatch up promos and coupons. Expect too-good-to-pass-up deals on things you never knew you needed, and you’ll have to show up in store to get them.

2. Shopping is Personal

Back in the good old days, people went to local Mom-and-Pop shops where managers understood their customers. Today, shoppers can no longer expect to be greeted by name and shown a personalized suggestion from retailers. But that’s the experience we’ve grown to expect shopping online. How can retail compete? Through information gathering from social media, purchase history, and location-based marketing. Barnes and Noble and Starbucks are doing this now, with things like personalized book recommendations on receipts and mobile customer rewards.

3. Goodbye, Wallets

Fumbling around for exact change at the register and enduring death glares from those behind you, will be something from the retail stone age. Lines will be a lot shorter with everyone breezing through with nifty electronic “proximity payments.”

Again, you really don’t want to lose your phone. Ever.

4. A Shopper’s Testing Ground

Shopping trips shouldn’t require survival kits. According to Kevin Sterneckert, a Gartner analyst, “Retail stores will be there for a ‘touch and feel’ experience only.” This means long lines will be a thing of the past, and products will be shipped directly to customers. Now there’s something online doesn’t offer: the chance to test a product in person before you buy. Oh, and go ahead and wear those stylish-yet-incredibly-uncomfortable shoes out shopping—small store stock means less space, so you won’t have to trek through miles of women’s underwear and jewelry to find the electronics.

5. The Customer is Always Right…No, Really

Forrester analyst Nigel Fenwick recently told The Street, “Retail is becoming less about stacking boxes high and selling items at the right price and more about building an engaging experience for the customer.” The same article later suggests that stores are going to need to offer items,that are, “unique to the physical store.” Brick and mortar retailers might also start giving customers say in what they stock, a method called “crowdsourcing,” and it’s firmly rooted in social media’s “like” movement. According to Mashable, crowdsourcing is “the ultimate empowerment of the consumer,” and it’s one of the reasons why people love online shopping.

Might be time to take brick and mortar off the naughty list, shoppers.

Leanna Kelly is a California native who survived college in New Jersey and England to get into New York. She enjoys writing, cooking, running, playing piano, and painting when she’s not coloring pictu ...read more

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