How Legacy Retailers Can Evolve to Compete against D2C Disruptors
Skeptics have been predicting the end of retail as we know it for nearly a decade now. We’ve all seen the headlines announcing the closing of old-school, once-beloved retailers. Stealing the spotlight are modern-day, direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands like Amazon, Warby Parker, and Everlane. These brands have mastered relevance among today’s digitally-savvy consumers who demand immediacy and instant gratification. According to eMarketer, from 2017 to 2018 alone aggregate time spent on D2C sites nearly doubled.
But while Millennials and Gen Z are the sharp-shiny objects most brands are courting, legacy retailers need to tread a fine line between acquiring the next generation of consumers while avoiding alienation of their core, traditional customers who are the bulk of current revenue.
D2C-born brands also have a competitive edge because their operations and infrastructure are built and tailored to accommodate the modern customer. Legacy retailers don’t have the liberty of fully overturning their current model; the shift would make stakeholders uneasy and put existing customers at risk.
Adapt, adapt, adapt.
These factors pose a sticky situation for legacy retailers and lead to the (multi)million dollar question: How does a legacy retailer adapt to thrive in the modern economy while not jeopardizing the things that have kept it sustainable?
Below are four strategies to help legacy retail brands survive--and even thrive--in today’s climate:
1. Create a social media-friendly in-store experience
In order for a physical space to merit a visit from a millennial customer, it needs to be experience-worthy. Brands who have nailed it have gone beyond infrastructure fixes (like ambient lighting and new furnishings) to make the in-store experience “Instagrammable”, e.g., a space that is artful and brag-worthy. Pop-ups like Refinery29's 29Rooms & the Museum of Ice Cream have mastered the art of luring in the millennial consumer. Old-school retailers can take a page from their book.