Is Retail Really Dying? (And What to Do About It)

If you’ve followed the retail industry, or the news, at all, you have seen that for over a year the “death of retail” has been making headlines.  The Atlantic called it the “retail meltdown,” citing that “mall visits declined 50 percent between 2010 and 2013...and they’ve kept falling every year since.”

So, is retail really dying?

And if so, is there anything that a business can do to survive it?

Retailed to the Max

Just as the Dot Com Boom became the Dot Com Bubble became the Dot Com Burst, new markets which experience rapid growth sometimes outgrow their market. 

While retail in America is nothing new, brick and mortar store fronts sprouted up faster than population growth, with more retail square footage per capita than any other nation, by far.  The peak year was 1990--when nineteen new malls opened in America. Some called it an “irrational expansion” of retail storefronts.

During the nineties and the early aughts, suburban growth and retail expansion went hand and hand--and when the housing bubble burst, so followed spending on things such as clothing.

Some blame Amazon--a company whose sales in North America went from $16 billion in 2010 to $80 billion last year.  But “the Amazon effect” cannot account for everything.  Yes, digital commerce has grown, but still only accounts for about 16% of all retail.

Yet even Amazon is opening bookstores. Ironic, perhaps?  

And while Gap may be closing 200 clothing stores in malls, the parent brand will open 270 Old Navy and Athleta stores.

So how do you grow like Amazon and Old Navy, instead of shrinking like...most everyone else?

Survival Tip: Customer Experience

New research from Deloitte is calling this retail apocalypse a retail renaissance.

Not all retail is fact, there’s a high/low spread: a bifurcation.  

Be on the winning side of that equation and give customers what they want -- a great experience:

  • Customer service - It’s called the brand experience, but it comes down to customers enjoying interactions with your brand, particularly if it is to resolve an issue.
  • Know your audience - TJX stores (TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, HomeGoods) are soaring because they offer customers a low-cost, sometimes quirky, shopping experience. If you are on the high end of the high/low spread, you’ll need to exceed customer expectation.
  • Know your competition - While brand loyalty hasn’t died, it may be at an all-time low: customers can go many places for experiences, if you want them to come back, yours has to be memorable.

If you are a retailer who excels at these things, you’ll probably evolve with the renaissance instead of drying up.

Survival Tip: Integrated Brand

Ecommerce continues to grow, as does mobile commerce.  Mobile grew from 2 percent of digital spending in 2010, to twenty percent in 2017.

If you are a store, get online.  If you are online, get mobile compatible.  If you are mobile, get on an app.

Everything should be integrated and easy to use to be part of the retail revolution.

Many years ago the way to shop was through a catalog.  Someday we may no longer carry a wallet, instead having everything from driver’s licenses to debit card data stored on our smartphones (or in a microchip).

Whatever change comes, being integrated to newer methods will be part of maintaining brand relevance.

NetSuite is Ready for the Future

At SCS Cloud, we are your NetSuite solution providers.

Before most anyone had heard of the cloud, NetSuite was dedicated to computing within it.  

With fully-integrated, scalable ERP and CRM solutions, NetSuite business solutions work with you anywhere and anyway you do business.

Be ready for the future.  Contact us to find out how.

Back to Blog