According to CNBC, Foot Locker announced Tuesday it will invest $12.5 million in Rockets of Awesome New York City-based children’s apparel brand Rockets of Awesome. Rockets of Awesome will be sold in Kids Foot Locker stores, making it the largest U.S. retailer of the brand’s products. Foot Locker will also sell Rockets of Awesome merchandise at kidsfootlocker.com. Foot Locker’s press release states that the company will invest in Rockets of Awesome to increase its commitment to the child’s apparel market, diversify its customer base, and expand its product offerings. Foot Locker recently invested in several digital brands including Goat Group and Carbon38.
Total Retail’s View: Foot Locker made multiple investments in digitally-native brands as a strategic move to attract diverse online shoppers to its brick-and-mortar store. To remain relevant and profitable, traditional retail brands such as Foot Locker must appeal to younger customers. As more millennials and Gen Z shoppers turn to online direct-to-consumer brands to fulfill their shopping needs, traditional retailers like Foot Locker have to be more appealing to them. Rockets of Awesome, an online brand for kids, is growing fast. It uses technology and data science to provide personalized service to parents and affordable, on-trend kid’s clothes. This is the future of retail, which allows brick-and-mortar shops to attract online brand loyalty and physical stores to incorporate traditional and startup brands.
Three Ways Retailers and Malls Can Win with Diverse Shopping Experiences
The retail industry is at a critical turning point. Mall tenants have the option to either evolve and prosper or be replaced by a faster shopping experience online. While 9.1 percent of malls remain vacant, which is a seven year high, Class A malls are transforming and thriving. The younger generation is demanding more cultivated shopping experiences than Amazon’s quick shopping promises. Shopping centers that respond to this demand will thrive. E-commerce cannot and will not replace the experiences consumers have when they gather together. Smart retailers will work to get them there more often and keep them there longer.
To ensure that customers have the perfect mix of entertainment, leisure and convenience, experience-diverse shopping centres must be attentive to their tenant mix.
The Service Element
The relationship experience is becoming more important to consumers than a transactional one. Today’s successful retailers are creating relationships with customers via both digital and in-person experiences. This is before, during, and after they purchase. They have found the best ways to provide in-person customer service, which differentiates their stores from those that are merely digital stops. Because they are more than just smiling and greeting customers, store owners should focus on finding service-oriented employees. They may even be the reason shoppers come in to your store rather than buying online.
This means technology must be integrated into your store experience in a non-redundant, efficient manner. It is not enough to have an iPad in your store. Do you think it makes the shopping experience better and more efficient? Is it possible to collect data that improves the shopping experience of your customers?
The right mix
Developers need to evaluate the mix and tenants that they allow into new or renovated shopping malls. Incubators and pop-ups like the Brooklyn-based hiO offer cheaper retail space for boutique shops and international businesses in traditional shopping centers. They don’t require heavy investments or underwriting as brick-and-mortar would. These storefronts offer local shoppers richer and more personalized experiences than can be found online.
Some retailers now offer food and drink as an amenity. This includes a mix of fast-casual, white tablecloth and other restaurant experiences. RH has brought wine vaults to their stores, for instance. Nordstrom stores offer customers the option to either grab and go (Ebar), eat at a restaurant (cafes), and enjoy craft cocktails and tapas in their locations (Habitant). All of these food and beverage options are designed to attract shoppers to stay, and keep them coming back. Newer options include fitness centers, which are specialized in training and group cycling. Over time, health and wellness-focused services can complement traditional fitness offerings.
Grocery shops are built to meet the evolving consumer’s needs. The best shopping centers include a sense of community, which can sometimes mean adding faith-based gathering centres or museums to the mix.
The future will see the best retailers curate an experiential mix that is perfect for their customers. Landlords will need to keep renovating existing centers in order to satisfy this demand. Target and Walmart are just two examples of stores that have made an effort to enhance the aesthetic by incorporating outdoor elements, eco-friendly lighting and open spaces.
Future shopping experiences will be more like walking through an outdoor market than checking off a list. Retailers will need to constantly improve their stores and interior designs in order to achieve this feeling. It’s all about the experience. How to make customers enjoy shopping online more than the satisfaction it can bring.