Starbucks is more than just a place to grab a latte before heading to the office, each individual Starbucks location has become a hub for people to gather, meet, congregate and relax.
Sephora makes high-end beauty products accessible. The products are available for customers to test, and its store employees are more than willing to demonstrate those products. Stores even host beauty classes and special events. Sephora has become a destination where people can get together, be creative, learn new looks, find new trends, and share unique experiences. Sephora has changed the beauty retail space into a fresh, interactive and educational environment.
Stores are no longer places that simply sell things, they are now social centers within the communities they inhabit.
In 2013, Club Monaco transformed its lower 5th avenue New York City store into an arts and education center. By expanding its offerings beyond chic and stylish fashion to books, flowers, and locally sourced coffee, it created a welcoming sensory experience that connects with the community and makes shoppers want to stay awhile.
These are just a few examples of how brick and mortar is changing. Stores are no longer places that simply sell things, they are now social centers within the communities they inhabit. With cities expanding, online retail options increasing, and more neighborhoods developing, people are driving less and looking to nearby stores for multiple purposes.
The rise of urbanization is forcing retailers to rethink the cookie cutter approach to merchandising. Large retail stores are getting stiff competition from small local shops, so they need to shift their focus. Big retailers must think small. Stores are now places to meet friends, gain local experiences, and find specialized inventory that caters to and reflects the community. People living within the community want retailers to contribute with authenticity and take on a sense of the local culture that surrounds them.
There are a few initial and necessary steps retailers must take in order to successfully achieve localization, deliver an accurate and superior customer experience, and ultimately make its stores community hubs. We will explore these steps in part 2 of this series.