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The Evolution of Physical Retail

Celebrating Brick and Mortar at Stores Week 2022

On 12 May 2022, we partnered with Retail Week to celebrate brick and mortar stores at Stores Week 2022.

Our Group MD, Marcus Fox was joined by industry experts including Iain MacKenzie, Harvey Nichols Store Director, and Caroline Crosswell, Chief Retail and Development Officer at Rapha.

The event gave insights into how physical retail stores still play an important role within the industry, despite debates over the ‘death of the High Street’ and the surge in e-commerce during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key takeaways from the event

  • Rethinking the role of the store Physical stores aren’t diminishing post-pandemic – they’re changing. The challenge that many retailers are facing is that legacy structures within the industry make it difficult for them to adapt and pivot quickly to change. Retailers must understand that the commercial return of the store is different from the P&L. Marcus explained that today’s customer journey is more dynamic and thus physical spaces need to be multi-mission. Through physical stores, retailers can obtain direct information about their customers, including their needs, likes, and dislikes, and use this to create relevant experiences that resonate with them. Marcus posed the question: what if we could do retail differently? If retailers had the opportunity to tear down their current operations and start again, what new approaches would they adopt and why? He stressed that retailers need to be more entrepreneurial in their thinking about physical stores and test and experiment with new ideas.

  • Experiential retail doesn’t have to be costly Experiential retail is about providing customers with experiences. But this doesn’t have to equate to a huge budget, a prime location, or a one-off promotion that generates a lot of press. Experiential retailing is about providing customers with memorable and immersive brand experiences. Caroline Crosswell gives a simple and effective example of how Rapha’s Club Houses do this exceptionally well.

UK Retail industry trends

When highlighting Harvey Nicholls’s retail strategy, Iain MacKenzie also detailed some of the biggest trends forecasted for the retail industry:

  • Selling online is non-negotiable

  • Omnichannel tools are creating more meaningful shopping experiences

  • Automated technology is helping retailers manage the labour shortage

  • Social Commerce is one of the biggest digital trends in the retail industry

  • Interactive retail experiences are bridging the gap between the online and offline parts of the store, and the border between retail and other industries continues to blur

  • Community investment from retailers must be here to stay

  • Good sustainability and not just sustainability

Watch the full session below

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