The Number One Way for Brick and Mortar to Thrive in the Age of E-Commerce’s billionaire CEO Jeff Bezos made the 2017 shortlist for Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. It’s yet another reminder that the growing power of e-commerce over the retail industry, and consumer behavior at large, cannot be ignored. They call it “the Amazon effect” – the ongoing evolution of the retail industry, both online and in physical brick-and-mortar stores, as a result of increased online shopping.

Discussions on the state of the retail market hardly ever occur without any mention of everyone’s favorite generation: millennials. It’s understandable, as they’re the largest generation in United States history and they’re currently in their prime working – and spending – years. Their buying power is estimated at $200 billion each year, and by 2020, they’re projected to account for 30% of retail expenditure in the U.S. It seems as though retail is one of the few industries millennials are not “killing.”

So how is a brick-and-mortar store supposed to compete with online shopping to capture millennials’ hearts? First, it’s important to recognize the following:

Brick and mortar isn’t dying, it’s changing

Contrary to popular belief, millennials do still enjoy shopping in physical stores. According to research by SmarterHQ, 50% of millennials not only shop in brick-and-mortar stores, but prefer going to them.

retail, brick and mortar

Even if they’re not making purchases in-store, millennials also like to “showroom” products, or test them out in a store before buying them online. Brick and mortar retail isn’t dying, but rather adapting to the changing needs of millennials and other online-friendly consumers.

There’s something else that’s crucial to recognize about millennials, and its importance to the retail industry is astronomical.

Millennials value experiences over material goods

Ever wonder why millennials are so willing to quit their jobs and travel the world? Save up all year to attend a music festival? Wake up at the crack of dawn to race through 10 miles of mud and obstacles? That’s because they tend to value experiences over things.


According to research by Eventbrite, more than 3 in 4 millennials (78%) would prefer spending money on an experience or event over buying something desirable. 55% say they’re spending more on events and live experiences than ever before. Experts dub it the experience economy, and brick-and-mortar retailers are changing the way they do business accordingly.

The key to charming millennials into brick-and-mortar stores: creating experiences

How exactly are retailers adapting? They’re focusing not just on selling products, but on creating experiences in their stores. It seems as though everyone’s doing it, from Macy’s hosting mini-concerts and yoga classes to Nike building an indoor basketball court in its New York flagship store. Even Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, is experimenting with physical brick-and-mortar stores.

retail, millennials

Creating an experience in your retail location can mean giving customers things to do in the store other than shop. But an experience can also be a vibe, aura or memorable encounter with a store that transcends shopping. Think about the last time you browsed an Apple store, and how it felt different than other shopping trips.

Creating experiences with technology

The crucial role of technology in crafting retail experiences cannot be understated. Customers are used to the online, digital experience, often involving plenty of screens. Fortunately, brick-and-mortar retailers can mimic that experience right in their stores with modern retail technology solutions, such as:

Digital signage

Use digital signage in your store to promote products and sales, display social media feeds, upsell items as customers idle, provide product details, show video demonstrations and more. Digital signage also transforms your store’s look and feel while immersing customers in your brand.

RFID or barcode scanning technology

Allow shoppers to scan an item’s barcode on one of your screens and see detailed product information, as if they’re looking right at a product page on your website. Offer similar products or even collect contact information to continue the conversation beyond the store.

In-store WiFi

Millennials love being able to post to social media or Google items as they shop. Create a custom login portal to collect email addresses and other valuable information.

Selfie stations or photobooths

It doesn’t get more millennial-friendly than a selfie station in your retail store.


It’s been said that spending money on valuable experiences makes you richer, not poorer. When it comes to the retail experience, it can also make your business richer by getting millennials to buy your products. Don’t fear the Amazon effect – rather, embrace it and use it as motivation to better your business.

Let CrownTV turn your retail store into an experience with digital signage. Contact us and get in touch with a specialist to discuss your specific needs.

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