Brick and mortar marine retail stores with a physical location have a distinct advantage over online marine stores

The pace of introduction of new technology has impacted the way we all think and act, either at a conscious or unconscious level.

One of the impacts of technology is that the world of retail is changing and continues to do so.

It has been a particularly interesting journey for me having worked in a retail environment for over thirty years. An important question in current times is ‘Can physical (i.e. bricks and mortar) retail outlets survive in the shadows of the massive changes brought on by evolving technology in retail (including online retailers)?’



Marine Retail Store Locations

My particular focus recently, has been on marine chandlers and the impact of online retailing, and also marine suppliers understanding the challenges that these chandlers have and how to support them.

The answer seems to be (based on research I have carried out recently) in the approach that bricks and mortar retailers can take to embrace technology in order to benefit themselves, their suppliers and therefore their customers.

My research also shows that there has recently been an increasing number of articles (with examples), about online retailers benefiting from having a physical presence being seen as a positive differentiator. This is to the extent that a number of prominent ‘e-tailers’ are opening physical showcases!

One of the main stumbling blocks for many of the retailers I have looked at, has been their reluctance to embrace technology at even a basic level. This includes using some social media; maintaining an up-to-date and easy to navigate useful website for their customers; and using technology to regularly keep in touch with their customers.

By blending the basic use of technology with a well designed and merchandised retail shop, a highly knowledgable team, and a personalised approach to customers, you are likely to give your business a competitive edge.

As a bricks and mortar retailer, the answer is not to simply add technological approaches to enhance the look and feel of the store. There are clearly a number of variables to consider. These include the product or service you are offering, the location you are in, your customer profile, your ongoing costs such as business rates, rent, insurance etc. and there may other additional variables to consider.

The good news for bricks and mortar retailers is that the future has the potential to be rosy!

The following list states some of the most frequently quoted reasons for visiting a shop:

1.    The emotional connection

The atmosphere, a feeling of theatre through great displays and integrated use of technology and people, and the trust that is built quickly when visitors interact face-to-face with knowledgeable and enthusiastic ambassadors of the store team.

2.    The power of instant gratification

Very often, we just want things here and now. We want to pick things up, play with them, check out the quality and feel, then take them home or use and enjoy them straight away.

3.    It’s fun!

Visiting a retail outlet can be fun, with the opportunity to chat with the store team and find out more about the product or service on offer, bearing in mind that very often when we are looking for something (or somebody), ‘we don’t know what we don’t’ know’!

So, brick and mortar retailers, what are you doing to prove that your outlets are here to stay and offer something that can be quoted as ‘#YouDon’tGetThisOnline!’?

I look forward to your thoughts.




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Geoff Langston

Founder and Managing Director at GL Connects
Geoff Langston is a Director of GL connects, customer experience development experts. Their approach is to develop leaders, managers, teams and individuals through tailored programmes that are designed to change and embed positive behaviours and attitudes. Geoff has been working extensively in the leisure marine industry for many years, delivering workshops for the BMF including the Intermediate and Advanced Marina Managers programmes. He also works with many leisure marine businesses including marinas, retailers, boat manufacturers, marine engineers and marine clothing suppliers.

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