Stores of the future are ‘Service Locations’
With a slew of rumors that more technology and gadget companies (Google, Microsoft etc) are looking to enter the physical high street with their own stores, it seems likely that what they’ll be trading not in boxed products but primarily in associated marketing and advisory services.
This is an interesting transition, and possibly a glimpse of the future.
As online shopping continues its encroachment on traditional brick-and-mortar, it’s increasingly fueled by more and more comparison sites and related shopping apps. But instead of killing the high street, perhaps it simply gives it a different purpose. Less retail and more promotional.
Obviously emulating the Genius Bar or perhaps premium stores’ superior service, retailers may be forced to transform into a Service Location – a place to go for help, advice, maintenance, and most importantly to learn what to buy online.
Having a physical place to go for product information is great, improving things such as:
- Conversations with face-to-face experts – much richer than web-forms or call-centers
- See demos and get real hands-on with a product
- Learn more about complimentary services and related products
- Get tips and tricks by watching and interacting with like-minded people
And clearly the web has benefits for transactions, for both consumers and retailers:
- Easy Product Comparisons
- Peer Reviews and Expert Information nearby
- Social Media integration to get friends input
- Lower Overhead Costs (in-store stockrooms are expensive)
- Delivery right to your door (often free)
- Economies in Supply Chain and Fulfillment Processing
- Some environmental benefits (e.g. fewer plastic bags, efficient drop-ship distribution channels)
So I hope that this leads to a high street of the future with more value-add services and infotainment and less trudging around aimlessly, carrying heavy bags, and general exhaustion!