Brick and Mortar retail – it is about the experience

I recently saw an interesting ad from Guitar Center -

This ad struck me as a great example of the changes we are seeing in retail. Why you might ask. All we hear about is the continuing battle between low cost – brick and mortar – online – home delivery and yes these will continue. And for the most part, the traditional brick and mortar stores are suffering. Stores like Best Buy are becoming show rooms for Amazon – consumers head to Best Buy, look at the products and then order at Amazon. Same goes for Barnes and Nobles – check out a book and order it at Amazon or get an e-version on Apple.

But there are those, like Guitar Center, who have made it their business to provide the experience. Going to the store is as much about purchasing product as it is about getting lessons, trying out new instruments or just hanging out with other musicians. This experiences adds a level of loyalty and stickiness that you cannot get via eCommerce.  Think of how make up counters create an experience in department stores, or how golf shops have all types of services to capture your attention. Another example is how Microsoft, a bit to my surprise, has shown some success with their stores. Why? They make it all about the experience, and they really emphasis the Xbox and the video games. Great way to pull people in and hold their attention.

Now, not every type of retail can offer this experience. Some retail is subject to being a commodity and the experience is not as important. But retailers need to think about how they can make their brick and mortar footprints a destination, a place where patrons want to share in an experience. Otherwise they will simply serve as a show room for Amazon and other eCommerce giants.

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