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With online sales booming, bricks & mortar retail is more relevant than ever

 Technology, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) seeks to cut out the very work that professional service advisors do.

Guest Blog by Jonny Wallace, Merchandise & operations at Assembly Label

See Jonny speak about Assembly Label and how they use technology to grow their business at the Law Squared Flagship event, Thursday October 25, United Co Coworking space. Click here to book now!

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In the age of rapid online growth, Bricks & Mortar is more relevant than ever. While, in 2017, traditional retail channels grew by only +2.5% vs. online at +18.7% (c.f. Australia Post, Inside Australian Online Shopping) we must consider the way in which those dollars were spent, and what infrastructure and technology enabled the transaction to happen. Of the $267b in traditional retail sales in Australia last year, how many customers began their purchase by researching products online? And, of the $21.3b spent online this year, how many customers went in store to look, feel and try-on, before purchasing online?

Furthermore, how many of those online sales were fulfilled from actual B&M stores?

Regardless of the platform you exist on, as technology improves, so does our ability to reduce friction points and surpass customer expectations. The name of the fame now is not who can offer the best experience on either platform, but who can offer the best overall experience using all the infrastructure and technology at their disposal. Value, Service and Quality can look very different across different types of retailers, but best practice in any form all equal the same net effect - the use of technology to make for a friction-free shopping experience. The ICONIC can deliver your new sneakers within three hours and provide free returns if they are not right. While. Hype DC customers can purchase their new sneakers online and pock them up at their closest store on the same day, where they can try them on and exchange or refund them on the spot if required. Both are examples of retailers using the technology and infrastructure at their disposal, in different ways, but to equal the same net effect of improving the customer experience, reducing pressure points and leading to increased revenue.

The juggernaut that is online retail has disrupted the traditional retail landscape forever, and no doubt this has initially taken the wind out of the sales of Bricks & Mortar. However, technological disruption is an agent for change and with this change comes innovation. Bricks & Mortar retailers have been presented with a choice: to innovate or die. The seeming disadvantage of having physical locations which incur high rental costs and wages, all while tying your stock to one location where it can be sold has become a huge advantage for omni-channel retailers who have Bricks & Mortar and an online presence. As online shopping initially disrupted retail, the introductions like Click & Collect, and Click & Dispatch has further challenged the way retail works.

Now, any retailer with stores and an online presence has as many warehouses (as opportunities to covert sales) as they do stores. They have physical locations where they are in full control of the brand environment and the customer experience, and the more locations they have, the more friction points to purchase are reduced. Bricks & Mortar retailers are now able to compete with pureplay online retailers, and even beat them at their own game. You don’t need a huge distribution centre in one location on the east coast of the court to fulfill all of your order, which leads to shopping inconsistencies and inefficiencies. You can ship directly to your customers from any of your stores that is closest to them, and you can fulfill these orders with staff that are also serving customers in your stores. The cost of fulfilling orders drops, your shipping time shortens, and you have the ability to offer your customer a much more personal and immersive experience.

The future is bright for Bricks & Mortar as we learn and adapt new technologies and continue to disrupt the traditional way of working.

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See Jonny speak about Assembly Label and how they use technology to grow their business at the Law Squared Flagship event, Thursday October 25, United Co Coworking space. Click here to book now!

Picture: @AssemblyLabel via Instagram.


 

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