By Alexandra Frith, Retail Pro International
The face of Main Street stores has changed significantly during the last 20 years.
Bookstores have been replaced by nail salons, clothing shops are now restaurants and flower shops have made way for pet groomers.
Those are the types of services you can't buy online, and they're finding brick-and-mortar success.
They are taking back Main Street, breathing life back into the vacant store fronts.
And adding to this new look for downtown are traditional retailers that are using omni-channel to open successful businesses.
VIP Click And Collect
The venerable, high-fashion store has debuted "Nordstrom Local."
Nordstrom Local doesn't need a huge footprint and doesn't carry much inventory.
But it’s a way for shoppers to buy online, pick up in store but also enjoy other amenities that are afforded the VIP shopper.
Today's fashionistas often order online, motivated by styles presented on social networking sites such as Instagram.
A customer places her order online, then heads to Nordstrom Local to pick up her merchandise instead of taking advantage of free shipping.
Why? To enjoy a manicure while sipping a smoothie and getting the inside scoop on the season's hottest collection from the friendly, professional associate.
Sure, curbside pickup is a popular option for those on-the-go, but those pedicure stations also have their place.
Those are the competitive differences that will make Nordstrom's top-of-mind for their next purchases.
It's Click & Collect, taken to new heights. It's that type of something extra that drive customers into the store.
This is the next level of omni-channel, in which the channel used for purchase is irrelevant.
Compare That To Amazon 4-Star
These days, fewer clothing stores have a presence on Main Street, with the exception of pricey boutiques that offer unique products unlikely to be found on Amazon.
Conversely, Amazon 4-Star carries a curated selection of product that caters to a local area.
This is almost the exact opposite of Nordstrom's model, yet it is also very similar.
Both retailers are trying to cultivate a customer base that enjoys shopping online but is missing human interaction.
While Amazon attempts to capture "discovery" shoppers, Nordstrom targets the efficient-with-benefits shopper.
And both are offering their clientele an experience tailored to their interests, which align with the shoppers in that demographic.
A Personalized Approach
Retailers today need to entice shoppers out of their homes and into the stores.
Just a few years ago, brick and mortar were written off as a dying breed, suitable only for "showrooming."
Slowly but surely, brick and mortar shops are finding secure footing back on Main Street.
Not all the old names will make it back, and some are gone for good, because they just couldn't reinvent themselves or their customer experience fast enough.
But physical locations are a vital part of the omni-channel, offering a more personalized approach than any pure e-commerce retailer ever could.
Just ask Amazon.
About The Author
One part executive, one part brand geek, three parts innovation fanatic, Alexandra is a strategist, a thought leader, and someone who is really good at cracking the business growth nut. With expertise in brand story development, customer engagement, and retail technology innovation, Alexandra spent last 15 years standing up tech startups, re-establishing relevance for mature brands and creating strategic solutions that hone market relevance and position businesses for growth.