JP Penney has recently released information of them closing 138 of their retail stores. Along with that we have Macy’s, Sears Holdings, Kmart, and a few others looking to shut some of their doors. What does this allude to? One simple thing: companies need to offer more. JC Penney was once the go to department store for high school dances, the summer season, and office clothing but other department stores and online experiences may have taken over the market.
This begs the question, is this the end of retail? No. It only means that retail stores need to understand that shopping is a personal experience that many are not currently providing. After visiting a few JC Penney stores, I found a clearer explanation as to why they may have a problem with keeping their stores open.
If shoppers are going to venture outside to shop instead of simply going online to make their purchase, they are looking for an experience. They want clean, exciting displays. They want salespeople who are willing to put on a show for them. They want knowledgeable advice from salespeople who are willing to help. JP Penney among other brick and mortars are struggling to offer this.
As I stressed before, shoppers want salespeople who know their product. When shopping online, it is up to you to do your own research. Will the product come as advertised? Is it in the same quality as the photo shows? Is this a trustworthy, brand, or website? While it may be somewhat of a convenience, purchasing online is always a gamble. With a specialist in front of you who can speak to product of interest, you know what you are getting before you buy it. And you get it on site.
It’s somewhat simple to design a website that is easy to use and pleasing to the eye. While there definitely will require upkeep, this will all be on the back end. With a brick and mortar there is a lot of overhead and front facing upkeep and you rely on employees to do their jobs accordingly to keep up the brand. If the displays are dirty or things are out of place, why would anyone want to visit your location?
How often have you walked into a store and there was a team of associates but no one offered to help you? They were either avoiding you at all costs or simply cliqued up with their other friends. If you visit a store you are either; wanting to browse, wanting help, or know what you want. If any of these are true, you especially don’t want to feel like you are inconveniencing the associates by visiting their store. That will not make for a pleasant experience and will ensure that you won’t come back again.
If you need help with this, take a note from Nordstrom. While they are commissioned, every associate has a smile on their face. They are willing to help, approachable, and ensure that you are having the best experience. Everything for sale is in its correct place and every display is neat and organized. With proper management and regulations, every company could offer this to their consumers.