In an era when many brick and mortar companies are shriveling and dying, a few clever retailers have found ways to stay relevant in today’s marketplace.
Wal-Mart and Home Depot, for example, have seen gains despite an overall slump in the brick and mortar retail segment. Wal-Mart’s sales in stores open at least 12 months have gained another 1.8 percent during the quarter ending January 31st, a 10th consecutive quarterly gain; Home Depot’s same store sales rose 5.8 percent in the fourth quarter 2016.
Improving Performance and Merging Models
The secret to the success of these retailers is part dumb luck and part detailed planning and investment.
For example, Home Depot is currently seeing a boom in sales partially due to the overall improvement of the housing market, which has now officially recovered all of the losses suffered during the recession. Home prices have exceeded the record set in July 2006, according to reporting by The Wall Street Journal. A positive housing market, in turn, drives investment in homes, with both small and large projects seeming more worth the cost to homeowners.
However, Home Depot also had a large hand in its own recovery. Although it has shifted to a mixed eCommerce and mortar model (known as “bricks and clicks”), nearly half of its orders are being picked-up in-store. This gives the retailer another opportunity to sell things to customers in the building, as well as encourage them to come back to a familiar site if they have other needs.
The Wal-Mart Approach
Wal-Mart has taken a slightly different approach, which is obvious from their 18 percent drop in profit in the most recent quarter.
The infamous retailer is now investing heavily in increasing salaries, lowering prices and developing a massive eCommerce arm. Better customer care means that in-store customers continue to return for quick purchases or those items that can’t wait, and the eCommerce arm will allow Wal-Mart to compete with Amazon in both speed and the ability to provide anything to anyone anywhere.
Retailer Macy’s is hoping to learn from these two successful retail models just how to save its brick and mortar business in the eCommerce age. The company has sold $673 million in real estate to raise funds for upcoming efforts, The Wall Street Journal reports. The cost of experimenting to find a clear path forward for the retailer should be minimized if Macy’s can follow the footsteps of other retail giants.