Retail Companies – Differentiate or Die

The retail industry landscape has been reconfigured over the past decade and with changes expected to continue retailers are forced to differentiate themselves or risk being a casualty of an evolving consumer-driven market. The time when retailers could simply rely on brick and mortar locations and a brand loyal consumer base has given way to the globally conscious consumers holding a world of options in their hand and immediate gratification delivered to their front door.

E-commerce players changed the retail landscape and forced traditional real estate burdened vendors to react. Since 2014, e-commerce has realized an average annual growth of $40 billion, this was up from the $30 billion average between 2010-2014. This trend undeniably reflects consumers’ ability and willingness to share, compare and purchase products without going into a store.

In 2016, an emerging trend saw the retail pendulum swing (if ever so slightly) back toward the traditional brick and mortar stores with online companies developing a physical presence in the US. This movement to “omnichannel” retailing is a quest to provide customers with a seamless experience whether they decide to shop online or in the store. While convenience may drive consumers to online shopping, there is still a draw to walk the aisles or browse the racks, even if the final sale is from a phone or laptop.

The retail industry will continue to change, companies that can adapt will survive but companies that can differentiate themselves and lead the change will define the new landscape.

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