You’ve seen it splashed across headlines.
A sensational retail doomsday is upon us.

It’s enough to cause panic. Every one of these articles has devastating stats on stores that you used to go to.

“JCPenney recently announced it will be closing 140 U.S. stores.”
 – Multichannel Merchant

“More than twice as many stores have closed this year than at the same point last year. ”
Olean Times Herald

“More workers in general merchandise stores have been laid off since October, about 89,000 Americans. That is more than all of the people employed in the United States coal industry…”
New York Times

Yep, devastating.

I hark back to the days of the neighborhood Ben Franklin, or Venture stores, where my mom bought me Hotwheels and Napoleon pastries. These are my first memories of shopping, but where have these stores gone? And what’s different about retail today?

Online shopping is the main culprit for the recent mass exodus. Brick and mortar closures are just a product of technology and the times. But what about when stores or brands stop innovating? Or when they panic and chase everyone, losing sight of their customer and what they did best when they started? *Cough* Sears *Cough*

The reality is that change is inevitable. It doesn’t stop to ask if we’re ready, it just does its thing and watches us scramble to figure it out. Those companies with agile leaders, the wave riders, are the ones who get it – who embrace it – leaving the dinosaurs in their dust.

But truth be told, it’s not that bad for retail. If buzzworthy headlines are making your head spin, try this one on for size:

Don’t Be Fooled: Retail’s Demise Is Greatly Exaggerated

See? It’s not so bad.

In fact, almost 90% of retail transactions from shopping, purchasing, and returning still take place at brick and mortar locations. It’s true. New brands and retailers pop up all the time. The retail sky is not falling. It’s just changing, like it always has.

Instead of relying on brick and mortar locations to launch new products, smart startups use the online channel to launch their companies, giving a greater perception of size and sustenance. It’s absolutely a great model to test and learn in our fickle, fast-paced retail world. Some of those same companies are now building true brick and mortars, creating wonderful in-store experiences for their customers. Did anyone think Warby Parker or Amazon(!) would have a physical location some day? The fact is, people of all ages still love to shop in stores. You can’t beat trying something on, seeing it in-person, holding that tangible item in your hands as you carry it to the register to make it yours.

Brick and mortars might be taking a hit, but when was the last time you went to WetSeal or The Limited? It’s the innovative brands that are still players. And you can be one of them.

So how do you navigate the ripples and waves of retail?

  1. Assess Your Performance at Retail – Take a hard look at what you’re doing in every retail channel: in-store, online, experiential, marketing advertising… Is it getting the job done, or do you have some obvious gaps? Is there consistency in your brand’s efforts? How do you know? You have to start by asking yourself the right questions. If you’re stumped about what those might be, we’ve got a quick assessment you should try. Thank us later.

  2. Set Goals and Be Realistic – You might find that you’re doing everything perfectly. But if you’re one of the 99% who aren’t, don’t feel paralyzed by what needs improvement. Once you’ve assessed, you’ll have to be realistic about what to do and how to accomplish it. Quick and minor efforts can yield immediate results, but others may need some long-term planning and bigger budgets. Do what you can with what you’ve got. Just don’t sit idle.

  3. Execute Internally or with a Partner – 90% of bottlenecks occur in this step. This is where ineffective solutions, disjointed executions and wasted money happen. So how do you filter through the noisy suggestions and half-baked ideas? How do you create a strategy that serves your goals? By building a team or finding an experienced partner who aligns with those goals – who has your best interests in mind.

I can’t stress enough, this new retail wave is leveling the playing field for companies of all sizes. Retail giants and startups are on equal footing now. But this also creates a whole new set of marketing challenges. You’ll need to think holistically, engage more intimately and make every customer experience seamless. To accomplish that, you’ll need a particular approach. We call it Continual Retail, and it helps brands thrive through recognition, differentiation, and engaging customers in stores, online and anywhere in between.

Like we said, the first step is figuring out where you stand. Take our assessment to find your strengths and where you need to focus. We’ll be with you every step of the way.

Continual Retail is here. See if you’re ready for it.