Brick and mortar stores in the 21st century : A customer-centric approach to omni-channel in fashion retail

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Abstract: Background: The retail industry is highly affected by the changes in the world. With the disruptive force of digitalization, more and more of the transactions within retail is moved online as the e- commerce has expanded making the retail industry more competitive. This change has and is forcing many offline retailers to close business around the world but in this change, has new trends emerged. Both online and offline retailers are starting to see the value of having physical stores as well as having an online presence. Doing so creates opportunities for both e-commerce companies and physical retail stores to create value using multiple channels. Purpose: The purpose of this study is to find out how an independent fashion brick and mortar store can create value for consumers through multiple channels to gain a competitive advantage against pure online retailers and larger retail companies. Method: This topic will be studied with a qualitative study based on semi-structured interviews with customers in demographic 18-30 years old with the goal of understanding how customers purchase clothes in different channels to create insights for independent brick and mortar stores. The data were analyzed with the seven steps of Grounded Theory. Conclusion: The results of the research show that independent brick and mortar store have competitive advantages regarding personal service, products, and product assessment. However, many customers want to search for information and inspiration about products online before they shop, even if the actual purchase is made in a store which means that independent brick and mortar stores need to have their products online for that. It was also found that customers want more flexibility between channels. For example, purchase online and pick-up in store. The authors believe that with this changes, independent brick and mortar stores can compete in the 21st century while still maintaining their current advantages.

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