Let’s start with the basics, what is a “Big Box Retailer”?
A Big Box Retailer is a store that occupies a large amount of physical space and offers a variety of products to its customers. Big Box Retailers are meant to be a one-stop shop for customers, where they can find everything from consumer goods products to groceries to clothing to technology and beyond.
Big Box Retailers are often known to offer better savings and discounts on products at larger quantities. Because these stores offer more affordable pricing, they often battle the problem of longer check-out lines, mobbed parking lots, and a lack of customer service leading to irritated, unhappy customers who are willing to take their business elsewhere at the drop of a hat.
So what can Big Box Retailers do to combat some of these problems?
I think David Bray, CEO of Briz Media Group sums it up best; “Instead of focusing on growing purchase volumes during each individual visit, the new strategy is a longer-term loyalty play. The old school philosophy is you want to keep them there and make them shop for shoes, makeup and what have you, but now with the online offerings, the offline world is about creating the brand relationships with the consumer” (Source).
One of my favorite examples of how Big Box Retailers are beginning to explore this line between encouraging shoppers to spend lots of time in their stores (which is a huge factor in the overcrowding these stores are experiencing) and pushing shoppers out at a quicker rate, is Target’s “next generation” store they recently opened in Houston.
This 124,000 square foot store has two entrances, one titled “ease” and one titled “inspiration”, designed to appeal to consumers on both ends of the shopping spectrum. Busy shoppers looking for convenience can enter the “ease” side of the store, where they can pick up online orders, both in-store and curbside, and buy grab-and-go items such as groceries, alcohol, last-minute gifts, and pre-made meals. Consumers with more time on their hands that are also looking for a high-end retail experience can enter the “inspiration” side, which features exclusive brands and seasonal vignettes.
While this duel concept store may be a lofty goal for all Big Box Retailers, I think what’s important to focus on here is that at its core Target is really just trying to offer an “omnichannel” experience that blends the in-store and mobile experiences.
In order to compete with Amazon and engender brand loyalty, Big Box Retailers need to focus on experience driven through convenience. Leaning into mobile to reduce friction at checkout and help consumers find products both in-store and online is a great place to start. Additionally, giving shoppers the option to pick up or ship items to the store helps to marry the convenience of online with the more personalized browsing and discovery retail shopping. In the end, it’s about giving the consumer options and creating that omnichannel approach that works for the customer in that moment.