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How Brick-and-Mortar Stores Have Evolved: From Stores to Stories

The emergence of the new retail business model, incorporating technology into offline retail, has blurred the boundaries between offline and online retail. In this era, brick and mortar stores will continue to exist, but the value they’re offering to customers is evolving. Value for physical stores will transform from providing actual merchandise to places that sell stories, engage customers, and create a fascinating experience.

Unique customer experiences

Tomorrow’s brick and mortar stores will become more creative and interactive than you can imagine. New forms of flagship showrooms will appear where customers are able to participate actively in the shopping process and enjoy personalized services. For example, by combining IoT, data analytics, and AR/VR, smart fitting rooms can predict a consumer’s preference based on intelligence gathered through millions of tests done by the AI-powered system. This innovation improves the customer shopping experience and saves them the hassles of trying on all the clothes by themselves.

Rebecca Minkoff, a designer fashion brand, has gained a large increase in sales after partnering with eBay and Magento to improve the in-store experience. Through the partnership, the brand established a technology-empowered store, which uses digital fitting rooms to guide shoppers through their shopping journey, while collecting data about customer preferences and trends. Within six months of implementation, it brings the brand a six to seven fold increase in ready-to-wear sales.

A new frontline workforce

Many of the traditional human interactions in the offline retail stores will be replaced by digital ones. This transformation will refine what physical stores can provide to shoppers during the discovery-to- purchase customer journey. For example, retailers can send personalized messages and promotions to their customers through IoT-enabled devices, or efficiently process in-store transactions with automated checkout machines.

Amazon has been an industry leader in adopting digital technology to offline stores. In December 2016, Amazon brought Amazon Go to the public’s attention, which is a grocery store with the most advanced shopping technology. Customers can enjoy an effortless shopping experience without having to line up for check out.

Physical stores as hubs for social interaction

Physical retail spaces will become centres for the community to bond. Stores will be fulfilling more of the socializing needs, such as becoming a lifestyle centre, or offering some do-it-yourself training classes. Customer experience will be reshaped to become something more than purchasing products.

The Mall of the Emirates in Dubai is one of the first avant-garde malls that has transformed into a lifestyle hub, with an objective to provide one-of-a-kind customer experience. Besides hundreds of retail outlets and restaurants, the mall also provides a wide variety of entertainment options, including community theatre, art center, indoor ski resort, snow park, and Magic Planet — Dubai’s largest indoor family entertainment centers. The mall also frequently hosts special events, such as fashion shows and real-life Monopoly games, with a view to satisfy all groups of customers.


Cyclops is a retail analytics system that can help retailers generate insights into how their customers shop inside their stores. To understand more about how Cyclops can help retailers digitally transform their stores amid the COVID-19 pandemic, visit our website:


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