Consumer • Digital • Growth

Role of Store in Influencing a Brand

The past 12 months have been tumultuous for the retail industry. One is that e-commerce players have been very aggressive in pushing discounts and deals, and this was followed by the effects of demonetisation in India during the last 5 months. Many retail experts came out with obituaries of malls and medium & large format stores.

I feel that these predictions have been made without due thought. In fact, I see this as the time when the role of physical stores has the best opportunity to evolve in different ways. Brand and retailers can start re-imagining the role of their stores in many ways and, in doing so, they will rebuild value make their stores more relevant to their consumers.

Retailers must start focusing on making their store more experience driven. Brands have realized the power of the digital on social media and these can easily be used for personal interaction with the customers. This is a great opportunity to engage with customers and build long-lasting relationships. Such stores will be seen as a destination by these customers and not just a shop, and the experiences delivered in these stores will have far more influence than the impact of advertising.

Brands are going to start this process by mapping the customer journey for the category offered by them and this will help them identify the opportunities for the experiences they can offer. Once they have developed this vision, brands can start the trial-and-learn process to achieve the results they want.

Building experience in the store is not new. However, this time we must look at it from the customer’s point of view. I believe that for a customer, the best experience is pure convenience: give me what I want when I want it. If we go through the customer journey map in a store you will notice every step is nothing but pointing towards the convenience of shopping, be it locating the product, stock availability or ease of checking out.

I believe that brands with this vision will soon start exploring unified digital platforms to not only map customer convenience needs but also to fulfil these needs in and out of the store using a common platform. I think Fashion and Apparel brands/retailers may be the ones to lead this transformation in creating new experiences for their customers.


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