What will brick and mortar stores look like in the future?

As consumers become more demanding, brick and mortar stores will have to rethink their role to continue existing in the future, according to a study by Axis Communications and Ipsos, unveiled at Paris Retail Week. “Physical shops will need to increase their added value and differentiate themselves from online shopping”, said Azad Khamooshi, Business Developer Retail at Axis. According to the study, the physical store of the future will be more sustainable, original and interactive, and offer a wider range of products and personalized services.

The study interviewed 30 consumers in the course of 4 days to learn how to improve traffic and conversion at physical stores. “Getting feedback from customers is essential, considering 81 percent of clients don’t buy anything if they don’t feel comfortable inside a shop”, noted Khamooshi.

What matters to them the most? First of all, sustainability: 70 percent of surveyors do take environmental issues into account. Originality comes right after: 66 percent of respondents like shops to be stylish, as they want to have their own style and not look like everybody else. New technologies and innovations are also highly valued by the interviewed consumers: 58 percent of them manifested an interest in such features.

What will brick and mortar stores look like in the future?

Physical and online stores complement each other

More than half of surveyors consider shopping at brick and mortar stores to be complementary to online shopping. The buying journey often begins in one channel and ends in another: many consumers visit their favorite physical stores to relax and search for inspiration, only to buy the items they were interested in online later on. Retailers should therefore take the opportunity to capture the customers’ attention during their visit, even if they don’t buy anything at first.

More interaction

Although shopping at brick and mortar stores is still considered to be fun by most consumers, they do have some criticisms to make. Surveyors in the Axis/Ipsos research miss digital tools to assist them in most brick and mortar stores. Faster payment options and being able to order an item that is out of stock in a particular retail location were among the suggestions made by respondents.

Retailers should also bear in mind that consumers are smart and well informed today. Most of them research about products before deciding on a purchase. For this reason, stores need to be more than just a place of sale, but rather a place to get inspired. “Making customers feel good should be a retailer’s top priority”, stressed Khamooshi, who listed seven features shops can offer to increase customer satisfaction:

This article was originally published at FashionUnited France by Céline Vautard. Translated and edited by Marjorie van Elven.

Photos: Paris Retail Week 2017