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New data out of the UK has shown that fashion store closings for 2018 are higher than the previous year, and new store openings have slowed significantly. The UK market is often seen as the bellwether of trends for the US market – so this news has ramifications for the greater shopping landscape, particularly in the US.
In the US, troubled Sears has announced that they will be closing 46 unprofitable stores this November. Spread throughout the US, these closures come on the heels of the recent Toys “R” Us bankruptcy which saw the closure of hundreds of stores.
Other notable brands are also feeling the brick & mortar retail squeeze, as shoppers increasingly choose to buy online. Victoria’s Secret, for example, just announced the closure of 20 stores as well as Mattress Firm, the country’s largest mattress retailer, is raising alarm bells regarding the future of its 3,000 stores.
Meanwhile In Ecommerce…
The Mattress Firm news is no coincidence. Online mattress sales have increased by 27%, with home deliveries and free trials making this type of purchase even more enticing. This is indicative of a general trend that has seen shoppers spurn traditional outlets in favor of cheaper and more convenient online shopping.
What has been a trickle, has become a flood. Just a few years ago, people could not believe that titans like Sears and Toys “R” Us would cease to exist, driven to extinction by digital disruption.
In the Sears case, the company has been open about its strategy for survival. It has based this around reducing its physical store footprint and gaining a foothold in the ecommerce ecosystem. This includes moves to sell products like its Kenmore and DieHard brands through Amazon, which is arguably their biggest competitor.
These moves, together with traditional retailers snapping up other ecommerce disruptors, show where the industry is heading. The future of shopping is going to be centered around more streamlined operations, automation, data-based decision making and increased online competition.
As the competition moves online, brands are having to deal with some tough questions. For example, what are their differentiating factors? How do they look in comparative searches? Are they stocking the right goods, and at the right prices (especially vis-a-vis their competitors’ strategies)? And, of course, what consumers’ paths to purchase look like?
A company like Market Beyond answers these questions, emphatically. With Market Beyond, brands are able to create and monitor strategies for various lines and categories. They are able to streamline operations and ensure they are winning when it comes to comparative shopping and paths to purchase. All of this in real-time, and down to product level.
Tomorrow’s Household Names
The reality is that more store closures are imminent. While it is sobering to see some well-known brands closing their doors, the opportunity is there for tomorrow’s household names to make their mark.
The key is staying competitive in this new market. The first step is partnering with someone who is an expert in this space, as more closures are certainly on the way. And if you are set up for success, however, shopping is in a very exciting and promising space.