E-commerce has radically changed our habits and made us redefine the role, and the function, of physical sales outlets.
At the dawn of e-commerce, many claimed the days of the brick-and-mortar retailers were numbered. Yet, just the opposite has happened. Some of the biggest brands on the Web are opening shops offline. Here’s the difference: Selling is just part of the experience.
Instead, online brands are building offline “enticement outlets.” They want—and need—to say: “I exist. Come on in.” The sales outlet has become a meeting place and an enticing place. While Apple was a pioneer in this space, many others like the Nespresso brand have followed suit.
Why? Because this experience enables us to set aside our computer screens, TVs and smartphones, and enter into the reality of the brand. The brand welcomes us, and we need to feel that our host is happy to see us every time we drop in.
This nexus between the real and virtual worlds signals the individual’s rise to preeminence. Individuals become guests who feel comfortable and express themselves through their choice of brand. The product’s price becomes the membership fee for joining a club.
It is no longer necessary for retailers to depend upon multiplying their physical sales outlets. They can distribute online and entice offline.
The intelligence of this “enticement outlet” needs to be cleverly showcased. Our former salespersons-turned-hosts play a key role. As the face of the brand, they provide genuine support for customers when they visit.
Of course, like most good things, this trend is beginning to become a bit overdone. For example, the easy option of installing food-and-drink counters is a big mistake. Unfortunately, this trend is spreading.
A customer who decides to go out and make contact with the brand isn’t looking for coffee. “Enticement outlets” must be careful about what they offer. Customers want an experience—to make discoveries, communicate, be wooed or reassured. They already know where to get a cup of coffee.
Didier Stora is president of gyro Paris.
Originally published at Ignite Something on the Forbes CMO Network