For some unfortunate retail brands, the apocalypse is already here: the retail apocalypse. As online shopping becomes more and more popular, brick-and-mortar shops are starting to close their doors, creating a rippling effect across major company icons. Sears and JCPenny alone have closed more than 100 stores each while businesses like The Limited have shut down completely. According to real-estate research firm Green Street Advisors, about one-third of all shopping malls could be at risk of shutting down from these recent closures. Is this the fate of all store brands?
According to some studies, not exactly. Like all trends, the “retail apocalypse” presents different opportunities for brands to reach out to a new audience. Though the shutting down of hundreds of stores hints at an end for traditional stores, that doesn’t necessarily spell out the end for retail as a whole. Arguably, Americans have been spending less money in general on physical items and more on restaurants and travel, but clothes and other retail remain a significant part of the sales cycle. Recent studies depict retail sales growing 4.1% from the previous year, so the need for fashionable clothes has certainly not decreased. Still, with the threat of stores shutting down entirely, new ideas should be used in finding a bigger audience.
Macy’s, one of the largest retail brands, has already begun revamping its marketing strategy considering potential shutdowns. One of its newest changes in promotion includes a focus on more centralized marketing as opposed to its previously national advertising. Rather than sporadic 30-second TV spots, the retail brand plans to introduce 15-second spots to local stations for annual tentpole events based on the seasons. Another strategy for maintaining a loyal customer brand is a new policy regarding credit card users to ease the purchasing process for more than one payment type. These new strategies hope to reach out to a young audience as well as maintain older customers, but only time can tell whether they will be successful. Of course, one of the biggest and best promotional ideas comes from one of the most underestimated resources in retail: The Internet.
Yes, while online shopping has been a significant rival to the classic real-life store presence, online promotion has been one of the most positive efforts towards reaching a new audience. Following the rise in online interaction, many store brands have embraced digital marketing by introducing a pick-up-in-store service which allows customers to search and purchase online and find their product at a physical store. Putting effort into online marketing itself can offer a new setting to reach out to younger consumers who are spending more and more time on the computer. No matter whether the Internet serves as an asset or an obstacle in the classic brick-and-mortar store, there is no denying that online services are here to stay, and there is no use in ignoring it.
There’s no telling how far the retail apocalypse will go or whether one-third of shopping malls will suffer in the meantime, but one thing that is certain is change. As technology grows, new traditions will follow, but that only opens more opportunities for those to change as well. That’s one of the thrills of working in retail.