e-Brick-and-Mortar: The Future of Shopping?

By: Lynnsey Rijos

The concept of online shopping is nothing new. For years – over 20, surprisingly – consumers have relied on the convenience and speed of purchasing items via their computer. Anything from clothes, books, furniture, and food can be bought online. And while technology has afforded us the opportunity to never leave our homes, there are some of us who still appreciate and miss the brick-and-mortar way of shopping.

Especially when there are countless examples of people buying items online and receiving something completely different from what was in the picture at the time of purchase. It’s basically catfish shopping.

However, even with the possibility of not getting what you paid for, online shopping still wins – leaving physical retail stores struggling to compete. In 2017, most people are digitally savvy, compared to 10-15 years ago. Knowing this, and leveraging advancements in technology, businesses are more inclined to find a way to make physical shopping and online shopping work together.

Hointer, a company you may/may not have heard of, launched a men’s denim shop in Seattle which allowed customers to shop with the use of their smartphones. Shoppers could add items to their virtual shopping cart and have items delivered to their dressing room, all with the use of a smartphone app. While the store is no longer open, it gave life to Hointer’s technology platform to make in-store shopping more experiential. Now, they are helping retailers become more innovative by building and programming in-store technologies to enhance the customer experience, increase sales for retailers, enhance productivity and provide in-store analytics.

Amazon, the leading online retailer, has grown tremendously since their inception and continues to expand their business model. Their attempt to expand into food retails showed little success when compared to their other business arms (electronics, books, clothing, etc.). As a result, Amazon came to the realization that brick-and-mortar stores still provide value, especially in the grocery arena, which led to the development of their first cashier-free convenience store – Amazon Go. The idea is to have customers walk in, purchase an item, walk out, and have everything billed to their existing Amazon account. Unfortunately, due to technology snafus in their pilot store, while initially slated to open in Seattle in early 2017, it has since been delayed.

While many may think brick-and-mortar stores will soon be obsolete, they’re actually just getting a “face lift.” If retailers are willing to accept the technology available and adapt to customer shopping behaviors, innovative in-store experiences would be the norm. Imagine what this could mean for advertisers, as technology leads to more comprehensive data to better market to consumers and personalize their shopping experience. Only time, and technology, will tell.