“COLLISION OF PHYSICAL AND DIGITAL”

The article I am reading in Fast Company’s April issue sparks this blog post, as I connect the dots between Gap Inc. CEO Art Peck’s words and my recent encounters of online vs. retail store shopping.

Danielle Sacks reports about Gap’s new CEO and his vision of regaining the company’s iconic reputation it once had. As Sacks puts it, after a “15-year reign over classically cool, affordable style,” Gap “slept through the fast-fashion revolution […]; overexpanded; and became too ubiquitous for today’s niche-minded fashion crowd.” In the article, Peck calls Gap’s heyday Retail 1.0, followed by the fast-fashion wave, Retail 2.0. Now, he is out to win in Retail 3.0: “a mobile-fueled future in which physical stores will have an entirely new role.”

Yes, we have heard predictions about mobile becoming the leading form of digital media. But hold on a second. Physical stores will have an entirely new role. This is where my mind quickly turns back to the conversation I had with my mother two days ago.

Lately I have been entirely preoccupied with finding the perfect furnishings for the apartment we are moving in to next month. As I like to hear a second opinion, I discussed some of the options I was weighing with my Mom, sending her numerous product links of online offerings. Soon overwhelmed, she cried out asking me why I am so keen on shopping online for furniture, especially since it is impossible to find the perfect couch or rug without seeing it in person. I found myself slightly annoyed by having to respond to her question, but then I realized that the answer wasn’t obvious at all. “Well, it takes lots of time to go to all of these stores, Mom,” I explained. “I’d much rather check out the selections online and visit the stores to see and feel specific products I already know I like. Since I probably won’t make the purchases in store, I will end up coming home and ordering what I liked most online.” Even though it might sound like a long process, in my mind this is the most practical and comfortable way of doing it.

Some call this behavior showrooming, something I have been engaging in a lot lately. Partly due to the fact that waiting in any line in Manhattan can get nerve-racking, I prefer to go to the stores to see certain products, perhaps try them on in case of clothing, and order them online from the comfort of my home.

This is why Art Peck’s forward-thinking attitude caught my attention in the Fast Company article. “What will that store of tomorrow deliver?” is the million-dollar question, a puzzle he is working on solving as we speak. I came to find out that he was the one behind  the introduction of the “Reserve in Store” and “Find in Store” features on the Banana Republic website, both of which I have used successfully and can only wish the furniture stores in question would also have on their websites. They would save so much time!

Focused on developing omnichannel offerings that bridge the gap between physical and online stores, Peck is experimenting with showrooms, mobile registers, interactive digital walls and even some vending machine formats. He admits to not having the exact answer just yet, but he knows that he would like to make mobile the “central point of all customer interactions:” No one knows what the retail store of the future will look like and the road to finding out will be rocky, but Gap is headed in the right direction under Peck.

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4 thoughts on ““COLLISION OF PHYSICAL AND DIGITAL”

  1. Sema says:

    I totally agree with you! Gap should have done this long ago. They seem to be i the correct path with their CEO, who, I believe revamp the brand’s marketing communications and promotional strategies before long. Many brands are resorting to digital show-rooming, and as far as I have heard, some will even utilize digital mirrors that will enable consumers to post their looks in their new potential clothes on their personal social media pages to resort to their friends’ opinions. This will both promote the brand on social media through a user-generated way, and will enhance consumers’ in store experience as well. I don’t know what would be a wiser way to create additional customer value while contributing to a brand’s own promotional efforts simultaneously.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Shenna-Albert says:

    Showrooming is such a convenient option today! It’s great that Gap’s decided to act on the most current trend in customer behavior today. After all, who doesn’t love a seamless shopping experience in the comfort of their home!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. dardiee says:

    Ha, I was just wondering about the “find in store” and “reserve in store” options. It’s kinda like the opposite of showrooming, when you first visit the store 🙂
    Finally, a clothing brand that takes action to make its customer’s life more convenient. Whoever manages to do this will win the loyalty of consumers.
    Generally speaking, I’m curious to see how the clothing world will go forward in the online shopping era – technologically speaking; I heard of imaging, digital mirrors, avatars… Wonder what the next thing’s going to be!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Vassilis Kouvas says:

    Hey, great post – in general the fashion industry has changed a lot with the uprise of ecommerce and I believe that will be very different in the next 5 years from what it is now. Also, showrooming is a huge trend and how every brand manages it influence the consumer decisions. For example, big retailers such as Target, Walmart, among others, will match the cheapest price you can find on the Internet for the same product when you are in their store.

    Like

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