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October 18, 2021

Reinventing the in-store experience: How Bloomingdale’s, Amazon, and more plan to increase foot traffic

David Vanamburg

Speed. Convenience. Efficiency. These are just some of the reasons that consumers have gravitated to online shopping. But satisfaction with internet retail isn’t as strong as it once was.

According to our most recent Retail and Consumer Shipping Report, customer satisfaction with online retail declines more than any other retail industry, down 3.7% to a score of 78 (out of 100). While still outperforming the likes of department and discount stores (75) and specialty retail stores (77), the margin for error is now razor-thin.

There’s an opportunity for brick-and-mortar stores to regain some of the foot traffic they’ve sacrificed to the e-commerce space, but it won’t happen without a little fine-tuning.

Recently, Macy’s announced a partnership with Toys R Us that could change the “shop-in-shop” model as we know it. And they’re not alone in the quest to reinvent the in-store experience. Here are examples of other companies that are changing their approach to the brick-and-mortar model.

Bloomie’s is no longer just a nickname

Like Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s sees an opportunity to spruce up the department store. However, instead of teaming up with a faded – albeit well-known – brand, it’s giving itself a more modern facelift.

Enter Bloomie’s: a smaller (22,000 square feet), modified, tech-centric, toned-down version of Bloomingdale’s that’s built for convenience, ease of use, and speed. The store will have a “tech-enabled stylist service model,” merchandise that’s curated and rotated regularly to introduce new trends, a centralized front desk that’s built to handle everything from returns to in-store and curbside pickups to alterations, and more.

Some of the biggest gripes customers have with department stores include inventory stocks (74), courtesy and helpfulness of staff (74), frequency of sales and promotions (73), and the speed of the checkout process (72). With the way Bloomie’s is being constructed, many of these woes could easily be addressed.

Gopuff goes brick-and-mortar

If you have a hankering for chips, snacks, beverages, toiletries, and other essentials delivered straight to your door stat, Philly-based delivery service Gopuff is for you. But it’s not stopping at online delivery – Gopuff is going the brick-and-mortar route as well.

The company already has physical locations in Texas and Florida, with plans to open spots in San Francisco and Ardmore. While this may not feel like a reinvention of the in-store experience, the idea of online retailers adding a physical presence to their already burgeoning online portfolio is an interesting development.

As we already pointed out, customer satisfaction with internet retailers took a major hit this past year. While we don’t expect these companies to shift their business models entirely, it couldn’t hurt to expand their reach a little bit.

Sometimes, you want your goods delivered. Other times, it’s more convenient to go to the store. Gopuff is making sure it has both bases covered.

Amazon is ready to revolutionize the grocery store game

Shopping for groceries can be a chore – especially if you’re doing it at a supermarket.

Customer satisfaction with supermarkets declined 2.6% to 76, according to our latest report. Toward the bottom end of the customer experience benchmark is a common pain point: speed of checkout, down 1% to 75.

Would avoiding long checkout lines altogether make the experience more tolerable? Amazon seems to think so.

Based on the planning documents for a store being constructed in Brookfield, Connecticut, Amazon appears ready to bring its automated checkout technology, dubbed “Just Walk Out”, to full-size supermarkets. This could be a game-changer for the industry.

We’ve seen Amazon try to streamline the grocery store experience in other ways, whether it’s using Dash smart carts or the recently introduced Amazon One, which allows customers to pay for items using just their palm (yes, you read that correctly). But this “Just Walk Out” tech is different and could offer an element of convenience the likes of which we’ve never seen.

Right now, Amazon’s Whole Foods ranks just above the industry average after slipping 3% year over year to a score of 77. This technology, if proven successful, could help turn things around.

Time for brick-and-mortar to evolve

Most consumers prefer online shopping. That’s not going to change anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean there’s not a place for the physical store.

The brick-and-mortar model isn’t going away. It does, however, need to evolve.

Infusing it with elements that promote speed, efficiency, convenience, and technology would go a long way toward improving the in-store experience. Bloomingdale’s, Gopuff, and Amazon got the message. Hopefully, others will too.

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