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The 2024 Store: How Can It Blend The Physical And Digital Worlds?

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Retailers have long been challenged to blend the advantage of the online world into their physical stores. An endless product selection, real time reviews to help make tough choices, convenience galore – and dare we say it: fun? That’s hard to compete with.

Still, stores haven’t given up the ghost quite yet. On the contrary: despite nearly every path to purchase beginning in the digital domain, the majority of retail sales still conclude in stores. Still. Even in 2024.

But without significant effort on the part of retailers to improve the in-store shopping experience, taking this reality for granted seems short-sighted, at best.

Consider the following yet-to-be-published data for our upcoming Store Report. We asked over 100 US-based retailers their reaction to a series of statements. The top takeaway? Stores are their primary strategy for the company’s growth (Figure 1). 

Figure 1: Retailers Say All Is Well

As keen observers will no doubt notice, in a list of 9 possible options, retailers’ top belief is that stores are the way forward – and their absolute lowest point of concern is that the role of stores has changed in any meaningful way in recent years. 

However, when we asked more than 1,000 US-based shoppers to rate their reaction to similar statements, Figure 2 reveals an entirely different reality.

Figure 2: Shoppers Disagree

In fact, consumers #1 point of agreement – that how they shop stores has changed significantly in recent years – is also retailers’ lowest concern. This signals a serious problem for our friends in the retail industry, and one that could come back to haunt them if not dealt with promptly.

To compound matters, retailers’ third-most agreed upon sentiment, that customers still like to browse stores, (the very topic of my partner Brian Kilcourse’s piece this week) takes for granted the amount of time they have to address such issues – particularly as consumers rate the same sentiment as third from the bottom of their list.

With customers increasingly growing restless, retailers do not have a lot of time to play with here. We are high on stores, and we want them to succeed. But in order to do so, retailers need to realign their make-the-store-enjoyable tactics to meet their the-store-is-center-to-our-success-and-growth strategic vision – while customers are still willing to give them the chance.

The forthcoming report, The 2024 Store: How Can It Blend The Physical And Digital Worlds?, will examine these issues in great detail. As always, we’ll also examine retailers’ investment plans – and based on the differences in the best performers’ varied approach, offer recommendations for some best next steps all retailers can take.

Newsletter Articles February 1, 2024
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