By Michael Pleasant, Solutions Consultant, Accruent 

The retail apocalypse the precipitous drop in brick-and-mortar stores over the past decade has primarily been driven by the rise of e-commerce. The decline of physical stores in the U.S. is painfully evident:

The pandemic exacerbated existing trends, so much so that in its early months, analysts predicted that 100,000 stores in the U.S. would soon close their doors. The thinking was that the pandemic would result in shoppers permanently altering their shopping habits and accelerate a dependence on online over in-person shopping.

But today there is hope for brick-and mortar retailers. As stores shift to become the centerpiece of customer interaction and evolve in everything ranging from providing unique atmospheres to fulfilling online orders, companies that are adapting their store formats are positioning themselves to not only weather the storm but to thrive.


The Ongoing Need for Physical Stores

Despite many of the benefits of e-commerce, physical stores excel in several important areas related to customer satisfaction. The key is creating great experiences that drive customer loyalty.


Online shopping has its conveniences, such as the ability to comparison shop and locate items that aren’t readily available at the local store, but there are some conveniences it simply can’t replace. Need to grab a bottle of wine on the way to dinner or snacks on the way home from work? In-person shopping means your customer walks out with the product they purchased and can begin using it right away. 

Product touch and feel

Touch and feel can be integral to the purchasing process. It’s why we want to sniff perfumes, try on tailored fashions, or test-drive cars before we buy them. It’s also how customers can determine the quality of a product. Online shopping will never replace the desire to physically experience some items before purchasing them. 

Personal and trusted advice

In a brick-and-mortar store, a knowledgeable salesperson can guide a customer through the entire buying process, making for a great shopping experience. They not only greet customers, help them find products, and answer questions, but the guidance and validation they offer can help your customers feel that they are making the right purchase decision.  

Fostering community

One of the trends that emerged after pandemic restrictions were lifted was that the percentage of consumers who said they were willing to pay more for local products and services jumped from 57% to 64%. Your customers feel strong connections with your brick-and-mortar locations, especially when they see you as part of their community. 

Supporting Brick-and-Mortar with Technology 

Given the benefits that physical locations offer customers, retailers are looking for ways to make their brick-and-mortar stores as efficient as possible so they can focus on customer experience. This is where technology can help. To shape, drive, manage, and control retail physical assets, businesses use technology such as: 

  • Market planning and site selection software to understand market conditions, make informed decisions and conclude negotiations faster 
  • Project management solutions to manage new retail construction, grand openings and capital improvement projects 
  • Lease administration and accounting software to manage and administer real estate and equipment leases in a single FASB/IASB-compliant solution  
  • Facility maintenance and asset management platforms to gain visibility and control over the full workflow related to reactive and planned preventative maintenance 
  • IoT technology to automate collection and analysis of asset performance data, distinguish between critical and non-critical alarms, and predict asset failure

Winning the Retail Apocalypse War 

There are encouraging signs that physical stores are on the upswing, as store openings top store closures for the first time in nearly 7 years. 

Retail stores that focus their efforts on some of the key areas above will be in a strong position to remain open and win the retail apocalypse war. This means not only marketing the benefits that drive customers to physical locations, but deploying the technology needed to keep those destinations modern and efficient. Learn about Accruent’s technology for retailers.