How Warby Parker is Bringing Customers Back to Brick-and-Mortar in 2014
Don't call it a comeback, brick-and-mortar retail has been here for years. Yet it's on the verge of a "rebirth," according to Rick Caruso, founder and CEO of real estate company Caruso Affiliated. In a keynote speech to more than 4,000 retail professionals at the National Retail Federation's Big Show on Sunday, Caruso explained that the brick-and-mortar store should no longer just be a destination, but an experience. That explains why he feels malls will be a "historical anachronism."
"I've come to the conclusion that within 10 [years] to 15 years, the typical U.S. mall, unless completely reinvented, will be seen as a historical anachronism, a 60-year or so aberration that no longer meets the public's, the consumer's or the retailer's needs," Caruso said.
Most argue that malls are dying out due to the growing popularity of e-commerce. Caruso, however, made the point that despite e-commerce holiday sales far surpassing those of physical retailers, purchasing online isn't only an isolating endeavor, but only serves a purpose of convenience. And today's customer is looking for an "all-on" commerce experience.
"Stores and malls can't survive when they're just a destination," he said. "The amount you're going to spend is so limited."
On a panel with the brand president of Nordstrom Inc., Blake Nordstrom, fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff and the founder of Sprinkles Cupcakes, Caruso noted that one of the key elements to creating customer loyalty and trust is personalization, and how brick-and-mortar will thrive in the 21st century.
"Creating connection and community are everything," Caruso said. "A compelling retail experience grows market share and customer loyalty. Retailers and property owners who focus on hospitality concepts will thrive regardless of competition."
One brand that's an expert in creative personalization is Warby Parker. In a NRF Big Show session on Monday, David Gilboa, co-founder of Warby Parker, shared why e-commerce not only changed the brand's business strategy, but also opened it up creative storefronts.