Is physical retail dying?

Is Physical Retail dying? That is the question many retail experts are asking today.

New in-store terminologies and the blending of technology led innovations into in-store experiences may suggest that bricks and mortar have been given a new lease of life and are now in a stable condition. However, retailers are doing their best to keep this from flat lining.

The suggestion that a physical retail environment is suddenly going to go into cardiac arrest may be slightly over exaggerated, but the evolvement of consumer experience, along with the continual rise of disruptive elements such as online, mobile, social and ever-changing consumer expectation, means retailers need to keep on their toes and stay ahead of the game now more than ever.

New ways of reinventing consumer experiences are constantly being put forward by marketers to ensure physical retail continues its revival, gaining further momentum and strength.

Start-ups and pop-ups

One solution that has reinvigorated physical retail and encouraged growth from new start up brands, as well as established ones, is Lean Retail. As we’ve touched upon in the last few sentences, retail is changing – and not just the customer journey. The retailer’s journey has changed drastically, and can now be mapped out in new phases.

We’ve seen more start-ups take their product to the high street after initially carving themselves out a niche market in the online marketplace. Thanks to the low overhead cost of online retail, brands can now be braver in pitching new products and be less fearful of the dominance some major retail brands have. For many brands whose product has found success online, the next obvious step is finding a physical home and seeing if they can survive on the high street. But is it worth diving in the deep end straight away?

The bricks and mortar retail environment is a highly competitive one, and one where caution should be met with pragmatism. In these fiscally constrained times, combined with escalating long-term rental costs, sustaining a high street retail business is certainly no walk in the park.

With all these factors coming into play, this has paved the way for Lean Retail and manifested itself most prominently in the shape of pop-up shops. Pop-Up retail spaces’ popularity has soared in the past few years and that is thanks to the many rewarding benefits their business model offers to retailers. For they represent a low-risk, short term retail opportunity which give brands the platform to experiment with new products and test the water to see if their product has the legs to make it with the big boys.

Pop-Up’s quirky and fun nature, along with its short length of commitment, makes it a desirable opportunity for retailers to take full advantage of – one that is cost-effective and will be a huge footfall driver.

Retailers also needn’t worry about slow consumer periods when it comes to pop-up shops. The flexibility of their tenancy gives retailers more freedom of choice when it comes to choosing when they want to target the high street. Thanks again to their low cost and short-term benefit, retailers can bring in a pop-up shop when they please, and exploit peak consumer periods such as Christmas and Easter without being present for slow ones.

As the physical retail world becomes more adventurous, expect more brands to embrace a Lean Retail approach and to see pop-up shops continually growing in retail hot spots across the UK.