Why click and mortar will dominate retail in 2016

Capturing customer data will continue to help brands like Frank & Oak flourish
ethan-song-hicham-ratnani-frank-and-oak-06816888-graham-hughes-cp-compressor

Frank & Oak co-founders Ethan Song and Hicham Ratnani.

The past year was punctuated by the closing of several high-profile retail chains in Canada, including Target and Future Shop.

The failures happened for various reasons, not the least of which included the companies’ inability to compete with cheaper or more efficient online retailers. Here’s looking at you, Amazon.

Companies that went in the opposite direction, however, didn’t get as much attention in 2015. These are the operations that started as online-only, but are now in the process of expanding into the real world with so-called bricks-and-mortar stores.

The best Canadian example is Montreal-based Frank & Oak, which began a few years ago as an Amazon-like online repository for men’s clothing. Over the past year, the company has been in mega-growth mode and now has more than a dozen stores in Canada and the United States.

The difference between Frank & Oak and, say, Jacob or other struggling real-world clothing retailers, is it has customer data at the core of its DNA.

As founder Ethan Song explains, the company knows a lot about its customers because it is online first. Customers fill out profiles that include a host of preference settings, which store clerks can use to tailor in-store experiences.

Customers can make appointments on their phones, then show up and have an associate ready for them with suggestions. The stores and employees are smarter, enabled with more information, a stark contrast to shopping 1.0 where clerks are clueless about who they’re helping.

Such data-powered stores are popping up in increasing numbers, from cycle-wear retailer Rapha to women’s clothing vendor Boston Proper. Heck, even Amazon is going in reverse with the opening of its first physical book store in November.

People like to shop for personalized products, but they don’t like shopping for them in terrible stores filled with unknowledgeable staff. Retail chain closures will continue through 2016, but it’s only going to happen to those companies that aren’t able to use data to customize shopper experiences.

Smart 2.0 retailers, like Frank & Oak, will flourish and multiply.

This article originally appeared at CanadianBusiness.com.

Add a comment

You must be to comment.

Brands Articles

Diageo’s ‘Crown on the House’ brings tasting home

After Johnnie Walker success, Crown Royal gets in-home mentorship

Survey says Starbucks has best holiday cup

Consumers take sides on another front of Canada's coffee war

KitchenAid embraces social for breast cancer campaign

Annual charitable campaign taps influencers and the social web for the first time

Heart & Stroke proclaims a big change

New campaign unveils first brand renovation in 60 years

Best Buy makes you feel like a kid again

The Union-built holiday campaign drops the product shots

Volkswagen bets on tech in crisis recovery

Execs want battery-powered cars, ride-sharing to 'fundamentally change' automaker

Simple strategies for analytics success

Heeding the 80-20 rule, metrics that matter and changing customer behaviors

Why IKEA is playing it up downstairs

Inside the retailer's Market Hall strategy to make more Canadians fans of its designs

Metrolinx launches public education campaign

New campaign from Grey intends to drive awareness of approximately 500 projects