Retailing’s Newest Battle

Retailing’s newest battle is far more than Banner vs. Banner. It’s a head-on-clash between channels—namely traditional retail stores and malls vs. Amazon and specialists. The relatively new upstart offers just about everything a shopper could ask for: lower prices, no sales tax, huge assortments, speedy delivery, easy returns, shop and buy at your leisure, credit, and no waiting for sales clerks or line ups at the check-out. But Amazon, Zappos, and specialists don’t offer one thing—in-store experience—which may or may not be a disadvantage.

The not so pretty truth is that consumers think that most malls are the same and that very few stores offer a differentiated experience that is worth the trip to shop there. Dr. Leonard Berry (Distinguished Professor of Marketing at Texas A&M University) calls it “the benefit for the burden.” More and more frequently the burden of in-store and mall shopping is simply not worth the benefit of the in-store experience. So what to do?

Stores that add a lot of drama to the shopping trip experience will stand out in the crowd. They can add an extra dimension that online retailers can never match (at least not now). So the standard touching, smelling, trying on can be done in a “theatrical” situation—in one case, literally. One way to do this is to locate in historic or pre-used locations. Shown here are two great examples.

H&M Madrid, former theater

H&M Madrid        H&M Madrid       


Apple New York City, Grand Central Terminal

          Apple New York Grand Central Terminal

Apple New York Grand Central Terminal          Apple New York Grand Central Terminal

Admit it! These stores certainly stand out in the crowd!


  1. This is so true. We took sales online from our brick and mortar business in 2008 during the big recession. It saved our company! Now over 90% of our sales are online and we ship to the entire United States. Online retail saved us as a business.

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