Manifesto: Brick & Mortar Retailing At Risk In The Digital Age

Bob Phibbs By

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Brick and mortar retailers view of the current state of retail trends alarming; from what passes for service, to the hype of online coupons and "going mobile." If you are a C-level executive, owner or manager you are bound to hear that retail has "fundamentally changed" since the recession. It has but not how you may think.

That's why I researched and created this manifesto detailing the great dangers that exist for brick and mortar retail along with how to fix them. Below is the setup to the special report detailing the important retail trends. To receive the full manifesto by email [registration required] click on this link, the blue graphic below, or at the end of this post and let me know your thoughts.

Have you ever seen one of those movies like War of the Roses or American Beauty where the characters have been together a long time but don’t really talk?

You know, the old couple who dismisses the other’s feelings? The young couple ready for divorce?

They all have one thing in common, one partner became numb to the other person. After years of abuse or neglect, they feel abandoned and disempowered. Crying for someone to notice them they turned inward. Or turned to drugs or alcohol to numb the pain.

I think that is what we have done to customers in brick and mortar retail shops. Whether it is the big-box or the specialty independent retailer, we have destroyed the in-store relationship by hiring employees who have no interest in truly helping a customer or business, we have let them thrive as long as they could stack merchandise and keep the store organized.

We collectively have let customers find frustration, anger and disappointment where they once found fun, enjoyment and fulfillment.

We didn’t realize how angry they were getting.

Until…

Until the Recession occurred and they simply didn’t go out and shop.

But as that ended and customers began to venture out, like a lover hoping their partner would change, they found things as bad or worse than before. Feeling even more alone, they decided to get even and use all the resources in the brick and mortar store to then go home and buy online.

Even worse, some brick and mortar customers installed apps on their smartphones so they could simply scan an item while they were in the store and have it shipped to their home, robbing the bricks and mortar merchant of the payoff.

As some retailers struggle to attract clientele they have grabbed at online coupon companies like Groupon or LivingSocial thinking it is all about the “deal.” But that has only deepened the problem as customers believe they have always paid too much and that they are finally getting the "deals" they deserve for years of bad service.

It’s not too late for us as an industry to change but it has to be a battle for a customers’ attention, respect, focus and trust. It will take creative ways to hire, train, schedule and reward employees. It will take treating the relationship seriously.

If we can’t fix this disturbing retail trend, the divorce will be bruising because we will have taught the customer the answers, personality and fun of shopping lie in their own hands.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

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