3 Clever Ways Brick-and-Mortar Retailers Can Leverage Their Space
For years, brick-and-mortar retailers have been struggling with the question of how to remain relevant in an increasingly digital world. From the prevalence of buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) to big-box stores putting food in shoppers’ refrigerators, consumers place a high premium on speed and convenience.
And while smart brands will use an omnichannel approach to satisfy demands for convenience, forward-thinking brick-and-mortar retailers will understand that consumers can find anything online — and probably find it cheaper. To stay relevant, you need to adopt a strategic approach to leverage the one thing your e-commerce counterparts lack: space.
However, you can’t just throw up a new display and call it a day. Any space you use must ultimately complement your offerings.
Supporting Your Shoppers
Many existing stores don't carry the inventory they once did, and they're locked into leases for much larger spaces than they need today. With online shopping as efficient as it is, you don’t require as much square footage as you used to because you can fulfill orders in different ways. Concepts like endless aisle kiosks allow consumers to see nearly everything they can order from you, and they don’t take up much space.
How do you avoid having sparsely merchandised, empty spaces in your stores? To ensure its spaces are filled, Walgreens has partnered with Birchbox, Kroger, and FedEx to give shoppers multiple reasons to come in. It’s tailored its services to community needs.
However, not every retailer can take advantage of such partnerships. So how do you figure out what to do with your extra space while appealing to customers so they want to spend time with you?
1. Ideate new business plans.
You need new ideas, but you can’t just implement one with nothing to back it up. Think through your ideas, and build a business plan for each one so you understand your investment and commitment to seeing it through.
As you brainstorm, make sure the new concepts complement your offerings. For example, to its stores to take up some of its empty real estate. Now professionals in need of office space have a stronger reason to be in-store, and they’ll likely make purchases while there.
2. Make it a two-for-one.
Another way to fill space is to build on what your shoppers are looking for. Kohl’s, for example, has . The department store chain is converting selling space into gym space in 10 stores while expanding its activewear products.
In another example, CVS is opening so patrons can get affordable health services in communities where they might be difficult to access. Community members can go in for a health screening or even a yoga class before making purchases at the store itself.
3. Don’t be afraid to fail fast.
Is there a potential for these efforts to fall flat or for customers to see no value in them? Of course, but the risk is low. If your space is already underutilized, there’s little harm in trying a variety of options. However, you can’t be afraid to let go of an idea if it isn’t working. If that happens, close it down, and try something else.
The key to using your physical retail space to its fullest is to create ecosystems that complement each other, instead of competing with each other. Once you do that, consumers will flock to your stores, and you’ll thrive in more ways than one.
Joe Schultz serves as the vice president of sales at Harbor Retail, which helps retailers and brands activate Harmonic Retail™ along the path to purchase.
In the first phase of his professional life, he spent 22 years learning and growing at Target Corp. During his tenure, he surrounded himself with inspiring mentors who taught him how to adapt quickly to the retail industry. Through his many leadership roles in stores, store operations, merchandising, and marketing, he learned to think nimbly, seek out new knowledge when approaching challenges, and be a champion for continuous improvement.
Joe has led stores with annual sales of more than $500 million and has led innovative marketing and merchandising efforts across new formats. A few years ago, Joe made the leap into the industrial design and build world and was lucky enough to connect with the innovative, multitalented team at Harbor Retail.