Sixteen months after the start of the pandemic-fueled digital shift and the role of the physical store is undergoing a metamorphosis of its own relevance, with forward-looking brands and retailers revisiting their physical strategies to create a more shopping experience. coherent and interconnected.
Dick’s Sporting Goods, for example, is not only building new locations, but also rolling out a range of House of Sport experiential stores with turf playing fields, climbing walls, batting cages, yoga classes and a host of games. other features designed to make the store more than a place to simply buy fitness equipment.
As Dick’s Senior CTO for Stores and Omnicommerce JP White Told PYMNTS, the store is hardly a side spectacle for Dick’s, it is the centerpiece of the retailer’s business and will remain so, even as consumers’ purchasing preferences change.
In fact, he noted, the company’s more than 700 physical stores are an important part of Dick’s journey into the digital arena.
“Stores are such an essential part of our overall strategy and organization. So even during the early onset of COVID here in the United States, we were able to leverage our store network as a key enforcement mechanism for shipment from the store, ”White said. “We were able to increase our curbside pick-up and curbside return capabilities quite quickly by taking advantage of this store network. The truth is, we wouldn’t have been able to be so fully responsive to the markets and the bigger changes in trends without them.
Staying the course with new partnerships
The plan for 2021, he said, is not to change course when it comes to the focus on stores because they are so essential, but to expand what the company can do to make it a complement to the evolution of consumer preferences towards the digital space. Doing that, he said, will mean leveraging technology to create digital experiences that attract more customers with a complete unified omnicommerce experience for Dick’s customers.
Dick’s partnership with the payment company is essential to this expanded vision for omnicommerce, he said. Adyen. Announced earlier this year, the deal will allow Dick’s to create a more unified shopping experience, he said, so consumers have the same shopping experience online, through an app or in-store.
“With this partnership, we are confident that we can iterate based on consumer demands, based on market conditions and truly build solutions together that will allow us to meet the needs of our customers as they continue to change,” White said.
Because this change is happening and is almost certainly guaranteed to continue, he said. Integration into the connected economy, he said, has given Dick’s the opportunity to really dig into its data and find new ways to connect with customers. These customers, he noted, are a fairly diverse group. Although Dick’s collectively refers to its clientele as “athletes,” the reality is that these athletes represent both parents who come to pick up their children’s first set of cleats for the recreational league football team and elliptical coaches. dedicated to finding specialized equipment for their routines.
Priority to personalization
White said personalization remains a priority for these two distinct customer personalities, and the many others, and developing mechanisms to help these buyers feel seen and understood “while also not realizing some kind of big brother. is a scary factor “is a top priority and one that is enhanced by the retailer’s loyalty and rewards program.
“We will continue to invest in these programs to better understand our most valuable consumers and athletes, and then use this information, their preferences and their feedback to help us identify what other experiences we should be creating in our stores and online,” White said.
Some of them are emerging now, he said, noting the sudden increase in interest in in-store contactless payments over the past year, with health-conscious consumers preferring don’t bother with ID keyboards. Some options, such as buy now, pay later (BNPL) – through Affirm, Afterpay, or Sezle – are growing rapidly. Not fast enough to qualify as a “dramatic change,” White said, but fast enough to be noticeable and worth following.
Because last year’s education and the big digital shift wasn’t about letting go of the physical world of commerce as an area of desperation, he said – the lesson was to be nimble and ready. to do more and to do things differently is all.
“To really move forward,” he said, “we’ve learned to incorporate things into experiences and, through that experimentation, identify where the things matter and where it makes sense to invest. more and then invest. “