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Did E-Com Kill Retail? This Retail Expert Says No, and Explains the Overlap Between the Two Platforms – 217

Ten years ago, e-commerce made up approximately 5 percent of all retail sales. Now, it’s over 15 percent. That’s impressive growth. Still, another way to look at these numbers is that 85 percent of sales DON’T involve e-commerce. That’s a pretty big potential market.

Today on the AM/PM Podcast, Tim Jordan welcomes Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, a well-respected retail industry expert. Nicole is a frequent guest and contributor to various media outlets that include The Today Show, Forbes, Entreprenuer.com and countless B2B publications. She’s been the spokesperson for American Express’s Small Business Saturday since 2014 and is the author of the book “Retail 101: The Guide to Managing and Marketing Your Retail Business.” 

Nicole is here with Tim today to help us understand why there’s less of a divide and more overlap between the two selling platforms than we might realize. She’ll also address the different ways that COVID has affected retail and give us an idea what 2021 might have in store for both entrepreneurs and business. 

In episode 217 of the AM/PM Podcast, Tim and Nicole Discuss:

  • 02:45 – Nordstrom’s Work Release
  • 06:45 – Brick and Mortar is Alive and Well!
  • 08:15 – Shopper-tainment
  • 12:05 – How is Brick and Mortar Adjusting to E-Com’s Rise?   
  • 14:20 – Content Creates Conversation
  • 17:55 – Charm, Character, and Community
  • 18:35 – Generation Z + Desired Experiences = Brick and Mortar
  • 21:55 – In-Store Experiences are Leveling Up  
  • 26:25 – Staples, Statements, and COVID  
  • 28:10 – Post-COVID Adjustments
  • 30:20 – More Pop-Up Stores are Coming
  • 34:00 – It’s Not One or the Other  
  • 37:15 – How to Contact Nicole

Enjoy this episode? Be sure to check out our previous episodes for even more content to propel you to Amazon FBA Seller success! And don’t forget to “join” our Facebook Group and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or wherever you listen to our podcast.

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Tim Jordan: In the world of e-commerce, we see this great divide. We see this great battle. Is it e-commerce or is it brick and mortar? Our guest today has been working with brick and mortar brands and stores for over 16 years. She has great knowledge and great experience with e-commerce, and she is going to attempt to school us, educate us e-commerce sellers and explain to us why there is less of a divide and more overlap in brick and mortar and e-commerce. In addition, she’s going to talk about COVID, the year of 2020 for retail and what retail looks like in 2021. I promise you, this is going to be a really, really great episode, full of really good information that’s applicable to any type of seller online or off stay tuned. You’re going to love it.

Tim Jordan: Hi, I’m Tim Jordan and in every corner of the world, entrepreneurship is growing. So, join me as I explore the stories of successes and failures. Listen in as I chat with the risk takers, the adventurous and the entrepreneurial veterans, we all have a dream of living a life, fulfilling our passions, and we want a business that doesn’t make us punch a time clock, but instead runs around the clock in the AM and the PM. So get motivated, get inspired. You’re listening to the AM/PM podcast.

Tim Jordan: Hey everybody. And welcome to another episode of AM/PM podcast. Today, I’ve got a special guest that I met, I don’t know, maybe a year ago. And she was positioned as this, like all seeing eye marketing branding expert with a strong focus in retail, brick and mortar stores, with a general understanding of how brick and mortar stores are moving into digital marketing and how e-commerce works in general. Right? I know that was a mouthful, but I hope that you kind of understand and are getting excited about why this might be a valuable guest to have on, because we don’t talk about retail stores a lot. We don’t talk about brick and mortar stores, and we don’t talk about the transition of brick and mortars into the digital space into the online space. But before we get started, I want to introduce, Oh man, this name is going to be tough. I had to write it down. Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, did I say that right?

Tim Jordan: Nicole Leinbach: You did. Leinbach Reyhle. That’s right. It’s a mouthful.

Tim Jordan: I’ve just always called you Nicole. I didn’t know. There was like six last names we had to stack on there. So Leinbach, Reyhle. Okay. Got it. So, Nicole, if you will just kind of tell us your journey, right? How did you get to become this what I claim to be expert in marketing and branding and retail stores. I know that you’ve written some books, you’ve worked for some companies, all that stuff. So, just give us like the rundown. So, we kind of understand where your perspective and your expertise is coming from.

Tim Jordan: Nicole Leinbach: Yeah, absolutely. So first of all, thanks, Tim, excited to chat with you. I wish we were doing in real life. Like we have in the past when we just have fun with that. So, when I was going back to even high school, I did what was called a work release and would drive an hour to Nordstrom’s because I wanted to learn about physical retail from what was considered one of the best retailers at the time, which still is a very well respected retailer, which is Nordstrom’s. And fast forward, I studied retail business in college. I was fortunate to work for a company called Bennett footwear, which owned Franco Sarto footwear, a variety of other brands, and was quickly promoted to national marketing director. By the time I was 24 years old, moving from Chicago to the East coast, gaining tremendous experience, working with tremendous retailers, such as your Macy’s of the world, your Bloomingdale’s or big box retailers, but also the small independent boutiques across the country as well, going to trade shows. Couple years later, jumped over to Adidas America and worked for what’s really audit us. Anybody who knows Adidas technically knows that it’s not Adidas. It’s Adidas. And I worked for them for two years and held a national marketing role with them as well and gained tremendous experience working in the apparel and footwear categories. But ultimately my passion was supporting the smaller independent retailers. And I gained so much in working with companies, such as Dicks sporting goods and larger brands through these fantastic companies that I had the privilege of working with, but I wanted to create something unique, something that at the time and retail minded, by the way, is the company I’ve found. It’s been around 14 years, we’re celebrating 14 years this October and at the time logs were just beginning and content and social media was just ramping up. And so I started Retail Minded in an effort to deliver what I recognize as news, education and support for retailers.

Tim Jordan: Gotcha. So, you were caught on the forefront of this content marketing, which is now completely taken over almost every aspect of marketing, whether it’s a service or good or anything. What about your books? I know you’ve written some books and kind of solidified some of your expertise dominance in some of these roles and topics. What were those books?

Tim Jordan: Nicole Leinbach: Yeah, so I’ve written for Forbes and entrepreneur and countless business publications, and I’ve also written the book Retail 101, the guide to managing and marketing and your business, which to be perfectly honest, it’s changed so much as retail always does. It evolves. And I have another book being released in 2021, but I’ll probably shift gears on that, just considering this very momentous change in retail right now, I’ll still release something, but the general topic might change of what it is. And I’ve written a tremendous amount of what I look at as ghost writing. So a lot of books under other people’s names for companies that I signed a lot of NDAs.

Tim Jordan: Gotcha. And so the reason I brought that up as writers have to do a lot of research. So, you’ve worked for a lot of companies, whether they’re big brands, small brands, you’ve also done a lot of research and I bring that up, not just to brag about your experience, but to set the stage for your perception of retail and your perception of brick and mortar stores. And your perception of what’s happened over the past 14, 15 years. Now, of course, it’s 2020, and we need to talk about how COVID has affected retail stores, brick and mortar stores. But I want to save that for a little bit later. Let’s come back to that. Let’s pretend that I am talking to you in December of 2019. All right. Because I do think a lot of the reactions and the changes that COVID has brought on will kind of cycle back and get back to somewhat of a normal, right? So, let’s pretend we’re back in the “normal phase”. And let’s talk about brick and mortar stores and how they’re adapting. And I’ll set this stage or not necessarily other drafting and how they’re changing. I’ll set the stage for that, as you know, my experience is in e-commerce and e-commerce, we say, retail is dying, brick and mortar is dying. Everybody’s moving online. Then you look at stats and you’re like, well, 90% of the world’s products are still bought in brick and mortar retail stores, right? So from your perception, let’s talk about that statement for one. Is brick and mortar dying? And then after we addressed that, let’s talk about how brick and mortar is changing.

Tim Jordan: Nicole Leinbach: Straight to the point, brick and mortar is not dying. Historically, retail has always changed. And if we’re in the middle of December 2019, looking into 2020, and all the conversation was in fact about brick and mortar dying, it was not then, it is not now. It’s simply is evolving and it will continue to evolve consumers at their core. They want human experiences. They want connectivity to something that excites them and brick and mortar has the opportunity to deliver on that. If– is there room for expanded opportunities and ways in which customers might want to have choices? Of course, absolutely. We’ve seen that already, but brick and mortar at its core is definitely not dying.

Tim Jordan: I think that what you said is even more valuable looking into 2020 about the human experiences and the interaction. We like to think that our world is just completely digital now. You see the pictures of people in New York subways and everybody’s staring at their cell phone and they’re like, Oh, you know, the world is always looking down now, but you look at pictures of the same subway back in 1950s, and everybody’s faces were still on newspaper. So, things have changed and the mediums have changed, but the habits haven’t really changed. And I completely agree, and I don’t know exactly how it plays out in real time and real life, but I definitely greet people in those interactions. So, you said that that brick and mortar stores can create an exciting environment for buyers. Explain that, like, what is exciting about coming into a brick and mortar store?

Tim Jordan: Nicole Leinbach: When I look at shopping in general, I look at as an opportunity to be engaged, whether it’s through convenience, such as many grocery stores offer or through entertainment, in fact, good buddies of mine, Kizer and Bender they’re in the retail space. They do a lot of speaking and consulting. They refer to that as shoppertainment. And I think that’s spot on. Shoppertainment is a very important way for our brick and mortar retailers to approach their business because as humans is that as consumers ourselves. So, even though many of us listening and myself included, are within the retail category and making decisions that are influencing the business retail, we are also consumers, and we want to go places that give us what we want from that experience. So, whether it is convenience or whether it is engagement, whether it’s entertainment is ultimately something that is responsive to consumer behavior. And right now in 2020, consumer behavior actually has heightened expectations, right? So even in December 2019, customers had high priorities and expectations, but now in 2020, we’ve heightened them. We’re more particular than ever. We’re more decisive than ever. We’re taking in many communities and globally, we’re taking actions that are more proactive to make choices on where we shop. And so this have a huge responsibility to make sure that their customers are engaged and it’s not just delivering on that inventory, but it’s delivering on the actual experience of their store.

Tim Jordan: I almost get the impression that more people are buying more things and more people are shopping more, right? Not necessarily shopping the same amount and buying the same amount, just transitioning from their platform. So instead of going to Walmart now, I’m going online. For me, I still love going to Walmart. If I need something quick, if I need to go to the hardware store, if I need go to the grocery store, but I’m in addition, shopping online, we know the data shows that e-commerce is growing and retail feels like that’s a battle. The retail stores want to make sure people understand that they have a lot to offer. They’re adding this excitement and this shopper attainment, and they’re doing things also to engage buyers before they step foot across the threshold of their store. Right? So, they’re starting to utilize some of the same tools that e-commerce sellers using. So, if you would talk about talk about like, as this line has been drawn in the sand and the eCommerce platforms and places like Amazon and said, we’re going to crush retail and retail is laughing behind their desks, still occupying 80% of the market share saying, Oh, you’re not, but we better make some adjustments. So, what are some of those largest adjustments, not talking COVID specific, just generally still 2019. What are some of the biggest adjustments and adoptions that brick and mortar and retail stores and brands are starting to introduce into their ecosystem?

Tim Jordan: Nicole Leinbach: The main takeaway is that the path to purchase is not straight. How a consumer makes a decision that they need something or want something. And then ultimately buy something has a lot of twists and turns. And with those twists and turns become vulnerabilities, but also opportunities. So whether you look at them as a roadblock or you look at them as a speed bump to get to your brand sooner, right? And so keeping that in mind, digital is highly influential in terms of how customers ultimately choose to make a purchase. They might be influenced by scrolling social media of your friend’s account or an influencer’s account. And then through that influence inspired by social media, they might search through social media, using a hashtag, or they might go to Google directly. They might even go to a brand website. They might take a direct link that’s provided via social media, or they might go somewhere, and then tomorrow an ad pops up within their feed that through algorithms is magically there, of course. And suddenly they’re brought on a different journey to maybe shop with a competitor that they haven’t thought of before. These digital engagement opportunities are influencing brick and mortar stores, of course, online sellers as well, and brick and mortar stores are recognizing that it’s not just their storefront. That’s going to attract the customer. It’s the window of a computer or a mobile screen that’s also going to attract the customer.

Tim Jordan: What you’re saying is that the path to purchase is very different between an e-commerce seller and a retail store. But the tools that they’re using to gain eyeballs and gain traffic are frequently the same. And a lot of times we think digital e-commerce window shopping, physically brick and mortar, but I love your example of, Hey, my computer screen is the new window. My cell phone screen is the window. I can window shop there. And it might not be something I can buy online, or maybe I want to go try that on. There’s still some inherent, I hate to say the word flaws, but I’m going to use it, inherent flaws with some online purchasing, purchasing groceries, purchasing– especially things that you don’t have to be kept cold. Purchasing frozen food is tough. I know there’s a few solutions out there, but they must be just a tiny percentage of what actually happens. Think about clothing and shoes. A lot of people are actually scared to death to sell those on a platform like Amazon, because their return rate can be 30%. But if I walk, I will never buy an expensive pair of shoes online. I might buy some cheap flip flops, but I don’t want to go try on 20 pairs of shoes and feel them and touch them. So I definitely agree that there all these place, but you’re right, that same shoe company is just changing the window that they are offering for window shopping, which I think is a great analogy. And I think that’s great. What are some of these stores doing to adjust to, not just how they display to people, but engagement right in digital, like e-commerce a lot of times we’re using content. You’re seeing these great viral videos. You’re seeing blogs. You’re seeing especially right now, you’re seeing a tremendous amount of traffic by affiliate sellers using blogs. So, it’s gift guides and product reviews. Now, that doesn’t quite work for brick and mortar, or maybe it does, you can correct me, but because you have experience and background in content marketing and brick and mortar, how our brick and mortar store is using content to drive sales.

Tim Jordan: Nicole Leinbach: Great question. And I’ve always said that content creates conversation. And when you have relevant content, it creates conversation among individuals, among friends, among communities and content obviously has become more than just traditional black and white. It’s through video marketing. It’s through social media. What a lot of brick and mortar stores are doing, and certainly not all, but those who are really savvy, they’re leading conversations through social media primarily. And they’re leveraging applications such as comments sold where it’s a technology that is pushed into their Facebook or Instagram. And they can actually let’s say, do a video. And in that video, I might say, here’s our latest fall styles. And this feature’s sizes, extra small through double XL. And we have two in each size. And if you comment below, we can make sure that you get that today. Right? And just through that simple comment, this application then moves forward through a transaction process, right? So to a customer, there’s a lot of ease there. They’re gaining that shoppertainment that they’re looking for. They’re feeling a personalized customer experience. There’s a lot of excitement just from that. And mind you, these retailers are in their physical stores. So, they’re using their stores as showcases. They’re using them as warehouses. They are expanding their selling avenues, which is what brick and mortar stores need to do. And for most should be doing to help boost or maintain a healthy revenue.

Tim Jordan: So, we’re talking about brick and mortar stores and you bring in comments sold where anybody can comment and sell and ship these products. And to me, that sounds a lot like e-commerce. So, on the surface, I’m sitting here thinking, wait, did she just tell me that brick and mortar stores are moving to e-commerce, but I don’t think that’s what you said. So, hear me out. It feels almost like what you’re saying is that a brick and mortar store can still stay a brick and mortar store while adding a distance buying component. Right. But the value of the store is still valid because you’ve got employees, you’ve got brand ambassadors, you’ve got a story. You can create content, you’ve got the showpiece or the showcase showroom. You also have like credibility, right? Because there’s all these new online brands that are popping up, especially on marketplaces, private label brands. And people don’t know what they are. But if this product is featured in brick and mortar store, there’s immediate credibility given. Right? So, explain more about this concept that you just kind of introduced, which is a brick and mortar store can still be a retail brick and mortar store, even if they sell digitally, but they are based with a physical location. Let’s talk about that.

Tim Jordan: Nicole Leinbach: So, if we go back to let’s say the eighties, okay. So, not going to call you out of the hold you. But, if we look back even just 30 years, 40 years, personalized customer care was already there. When it comes to retail, if you go back a hundred years, it was already there. It used to be face to face only then phone orders and mail orders and store customers were able to engage with, or I’m sorry. Customers were able to engage the store employees through some personalized TLC experiences, right? That’s really what comments sold is offering to brick and mortar employees. There’s a lot of great software out there that help connect brands and employ brands and customers when they’re physically not in that store environment. Okay. I think the one thing to remember here though, is that brick and mortars bring more than just inventory to physical storefronts. They bring charm and character personalization and community to the talents in which they’re located. Right. If you go to any, let’s see you go to Charleston, South Carolina, is it because you just want to see the water nearby or do you just want to eat the food often because you want to explore the community as well. And independent retailers are making up a large part of that community. So, there’s a lot of responsibility for retailers to deliver on, not just connecting inventory to customers, they create character with wherever they call home. And so we’re not losing that with this online connectivity, but instead they’re expanding their feet to more customers. Does that make sense?

Tim Jordan: It does. And I will say this, and this is just me pulling stuff out of the back of my head as we talk here, but also, in the e-commerce space, I see a lot of talk about experience, right now like generation Z. There’s a lot of reports saying that generation Z is more interested than an experience than a produc.t they’d rather go on a vacation than have a new gadget, right? Like they want experiences. And if you look at things like, what is that? Airbnb. Airbnb’s biggest innovation that, how does experiences like, yeah, I can go stay in a house in San Diego, but I can also pay 30 bucks for this dude to spend two hours trying to teach me to longboard down this crazy death trap of a road. I can do these experiences in this generation that especially is coming up generation Z is dying for that. And I think it’s obvious that brick and mortar stores and retail brands have the ability to create a very different set of experiences in e-commerce sellers. Now, the experiences that eCommerce stores and platforms like Amazon, of course, the experiences ease and great customer service, and I can buy anything from anywhere that’s simple, but especially moving in new generation, maybe it’s going to swing back to this coolness of actually going to a store. What do you think?

Tim Jordan: Nicole Leinbach: Well, I can tell you that my nieces are 18 and 16 and although they have made purchases online, they’re much more interested in going to a physical store to gain that experience we keep talking about. Going back to that shoppertainment, we originally discussed early on, but to your point, Airbnb offering experiences. And so I think generationally things have changed and baby boomers are among the more popular online users of shopping, right. Which is quite interesting. Because they grew up in a generation where that didn’t exist, but they want ease and convenience now, whereas their grandkids are looking to gain those experiences still. So I think there’s opportunity to combine.

Tim Jordan: It’s going to be interesting when we look in 2040 and see if there was a steady increase in e-commerce and decrease in retail or see if it waffled back and forth generationally. I suspect that there’ll be some movement in both directions from both sides. So, I think that it’s fair to say that, according to you, retail is not dead, but retail is adjusting. Retail is having to make some moves. They’re having to take a 2000, excuse me, a 2000-year old method of people walking their store or their shop or their whatever it is to buy it. And they’re having to become digital and they’re having to work on content. They’re having to work on brand experiences, store experiences, ambassadorships, all that good stuff. 2020 then hit us. And 2020 rocked us, and 2020 has been the dumpster fire that we will always remember for the rest of our lives. And it was especially difficult for brick and mortar because the e-commerce, we’ve looked at the stats, a lot of e-commerce, I won’t even say e-commerce stores, but e-commerce industries are up to 300% and people are adopting eCommerce because the retail stores were closed. The retail stores have bigger restrictions or people are just scared to death to go in the public. And it’s easier to order online. What are some of the best reactions that you’ve seen in retail stores in the first half of 2020 when you saw these retail stores massively adjusting and you can think of two or three great examples of, Hey, these guys did it right in the first half of 2020, what would some of those examples be?

Tim Jordan: Nicole Leinbach: I think one of the things that really has stuck out to me through this 2020 COVID chaos is that buy online pickup in store was already out there and existed, but not a lot of people really optimized it nor did brands really strengthen their communication and delivery on it. So, I’ve seen a huge boost in that, that even smaller independent brands and businesses have introduced in response to COVID and continue to strengthen. I think even as a consumer myself, I wasn’t a huge fan of that before, because there wasn’t as much ease to a lot of places that I would prefer to shop. And again, going back to those independent stores, I don’t always want to buy at a local big box retailer. I want to spread my dollars as a consumer out amongst small businesses as well. To me, that’s really stood out. And I think that one of the reasons is because of communication. It’s been clear and more concise than ever before from retailers because their customers demand it. And retailers have finally been pushed to say, it’s time to get this sorted. We have to be better at this. The other thing I would say is that the in store experience has been heightened in terms of navigation. People want to get in and get out. And so that means in store signage has strengthened. I don’t want to always talk to a sales associate. In fact, for a year, here’s a great stat about three years ago that came out that two out of three customers do not want to talk to store employees for no circumstances.

Tim Jordan: And that probably changes based on the store. I’m less likely to want to talk to people in one store than others, right.

Tim Jordan: Nicole Leinbach: It was a general study. Yeah. And so this is, somebody knows what they want. They just want to buy it and they want to get out. And that was a big reason that self-checkout existed, but self-checkout is now shared with others. So, now if you actually go into a store, some people don’t want to do self-checkout because it was just used by someone else. So, they prefer maybe the line where there’s actual cashier helping. And there’s a lot of variations. And of course there’s so many personalities among consumers, which is why stores have to offer choices. Right? Everybody’s different.

Tim Jordan: And I’ll talk about Walmart, not because I’m a huge proponent of Walmart. I’m not saying that whether or not, but Walmart is a good example cause we all shop at Walmart. Right. And Walmart has for a long time had that buy online and pick up at the store. And I’ve always wondered, is that e-commerce or is that not? I’ve never figured out if that’s e-commerce or not, but you’re right. People not wanting to go into stores, but want to be able to pick up the groceries in two hours. That has been awesome because people utilize that. And to your point, a lot of small retailers are doing it too. You see all these stores that are even dedicated parking spots that used to never do this to online store pickup and we’ll bring it out. I rolled into staples the other day to go buy a printer or something. And someone was like, at my car, the moment I parked, I was like, Oh, it’s another homeless guy, asking for money or something. He’s a staples employees. Sir, I’m here to get your order number. I’m like, I don’t have an order number. And he’s like, you’re actually coming in the store. I’m like, yeah, I’m coming in the store. And it’s amazing because no one would have thought that would have happened coming into 2020.

Tim Jordan: Nicole Leinbach: Well, and to your point, Tim, like, I’ll just use Staples as an example, too. What’s also happening is commercial real estate agencies. Those people who own these buildings are actually saying, we need to identify parking lot scenarios that compliment buy online pickup in store. I also do think it’s in store inventory. That’s being sold. Therefore it’s not ecommerce by the way.

Tim Jordan: Oh, okay. So, even though you bought it online, but it’s sitting in brick and mortar, it’s still a retail. Okay. We’ll argue about that another day. We’ll have that debate on stage somewhere. The other thing that you’re talking about is the ease of in store. We’ve known for a long time that it is a strategy, a technique of retail stores to make you walk past more stuff. That’s why when you walk into a grocery store, the milk and bread are always in the very farthest back corner you can possibly find. So, they make you walk past all this stuff. But I have seen that changing. I’ve seen them moving the convenience items up, eliminating the mazes so that people could walk in, and to get their five items instead of a 12-minute experience, or a 4-minute experience. So, maybe that’s one of the positive benefits that retail is taking, because frankly I hated that. I hated walking in what seemed like 18 miles through my local Kroger to get a gallon of milk. So, that’s very interesting. I hadn’t thought about that either.

Tim Jordan: Nicole Leinbach: Yeah. I call those staples and statements. So, your staples would be your bread and milk or your blue denim versus your white capris, which I would refer to as your statements. So, every category of retail has staples and statements from a merchandising perspective, it does make sense to put your staples in the back of the store. But in response to let’s say COVID right, which we’re living through right now, putting those staples up front that is in direct response to what customers really want, but not just what need right now. They’re trying to say, listen, I’m going to be a retailer who’s sensitive to the sentiment of our consumer environment right now. I would beg to say that will change once this hopefully goes away, but then again, because it doesn’t benefit the retailer as much in terms of additional add on or unexpected sales, but it does benefit the retailer if they’re responding to that customer sentiment. And right now customer sentiment is a huge driver of consumer saying, I’m going to shop here versus here.

Tim Jordan: Okay. So, two great examples to answer my question of what did stores do reactionary that were good brick and mortar stores, but going forward, all right, we’re coming up on Q4 of 2020, the year of COVID, right? What are, with all the brands– and I know you work with a lot of brands and you help a lot of these stores and brand owners strategize you won’t let me use the word consultant. So I’m not going to say consultant, even though I just did, but as you’re strategizing with these people and seeing what they’re doing, what are some of the changes that a lot of these brands and stores are making long term coming, hopefully out of the era of COVID like, where do you see retail, brick and mortar in 2021?

Tim Jordan: Nicole Leinbach: I definitely see store hours being adjusted. We’ve already seen a response to COVID that physical stores are changing their hours, which benefits employee overhead in store experience time. It also opens up time for private appointments. A lot of retailers had said, we’re going to condense our time from 11 to five every day as open doors, but you can put private appointments from 10 to 11 or from five to seven. Okay. So, these are things that I’ve seen in different categories of retail, which I think is brilliant. Often, this is controlled by the commercial leasing companies, depending on where these stores are. But of course there’s been flexibility through COVID. I definitely think that store hours will be changed in the future. And you have to remember, that’s going to impact their overhead as well, their financial overhead. Okay. So they have less hours, but they’re optimizing those hours better. Their employee salary wages and so forth might be reduced, which is going to help a lot of these retailers.

Tim Jordan: Would it be fair to say that this is a positive change that probably would not have happened organically if it wasn’t forced to happen through COVID? So, this is one of those force changes of people went, Oh crap. This is actually a pretty good idea. Let’s stick with this.

Tim Jordan: Nicole Leinbach: Absolutely. I think it’s great. It’s been a little bit too cookie cutter and expected. There’s certainly convenience in knowing what those hours are, but customers will adjust the same way as consumers we’ve had to adjust to wearing masks in stores. We will start to adjust to whatever those changes are as retail moves forward in 2020 and beyond. Right. And so I do think that there’s– even your big box retailers like target and Walmart, they have reduced hours. Okay. And so that’s partly because of sanitization.

Tim Jordan: Nicole Leinbach: Yeah. So, that’s obviously been a change too, but I think with that comes some responsibility from those retailers to say, I’m going to really optimize our open hours. Okay. Because they have less hours to sell, which means they need to boost that experience. So in addition to that, I think the other thing we’re going to see are more temporary stores, popups to shops. Okay. We’ve seen that. That was already existing. Lululemon just announced that they’re doing, I believe it was around 50 going into the holiday season for 2020. Historically they had not done that. They based that their future new locations on data generated from a variety of places. But now they’re saying we’re going to actually open pop up stores, smaller storefronts, put less investment into the actual physical store environment to then test what sales were like, how customer responses are, and then decide where we will make more investment into permanent locations. And we’re going to see that more and more. I think that’s directly in response to COVID because COVID has a huge influence on consumer spending of course, but also it’s a great way for brands to say, I don’t need it to be the most beautiful storefront. I just needed to sell inventory over the next three months and then we’re going to move on. But also we’re going to see a lot of vacancies in retail, right? So, because of those vacancies and physical storefronts, unfortunately, many businesses have closed and will closed that gives opportunity for pop-up experiences. And that’s also an opportunity by the way, for eCommerce sellers to say, do I want to explore this even just a temporary basis?

Tim Jordan: I’ve actually seen that, which is crazy. These brands that were established online, sold online and have said, I will never get into retail because the barrier to entry was too high. And there wasn’t an– but now looking at COVID, they’re looking at these strip malls and they’re looking at these other shopping, especially consolidated shopping areas. And they’re going, man, where this storefront used to cost me $1,200 a month. And I had to sign a three year lease. Now they’re going to offer me a two month lease at $500 a month. That might be a November and December option for me, which is great. So of course, my heart is broken for these businesses that have tanked. I’ve seen a lot of things like gift shops that were already kind of struggling. They’re done. And I’ve seen a lot of small restaurants that are done. And I hate that, but I will say the shining light is that when you have this, I don’t want to say the word purge, but when you have this like reset, it does create opportunities for different businesses to come in and recycle those opportunities and take advantage of it. And it levels the playing field. In some areas, it kind of hits the reset button. So, it has been interesting to see that. And I think that there’s, you would know more about this, but I feel like there’s going to be like a rebound, like people that have been stuck at home for six months. They’re so sick of buying on Amazon. That at least for a short period of time, is that as the unlocks start to happen, they are going to go and stand in stores for an hour, looking at all the great things and looking at the people and smelling different air, maybe I’m wrong. But I think there’s definitely something to be said for that.

Tim Jordan: Nicole Leinbach: Well, there’s already lines outside of Lululemon and Apple stores that people are waiting 30, 45 minutes just to get inside. Now, certainly that’s partly in response to limited capacity in the stores, but it does speak to their brand loyalty. It does speak to that consumer saying I’m investing in waiting to physically go into this environment versus order online. Right? So, I think that speaks volumes to how consumers really do crave these engaging physical environment.

Tim Jordan: So, let me tell you one of my biggest takeaways from this talk that I so appreciate you taking your time to have with us and you can kind of reiterate, or you can correct me or whatever, but I’m going to make a general, I’m going to make some generalized statements, right? Just from the eyes of an e-commerce seller. I think that we, as e-commerce sellers have always seen a dividing line between e-commerce and brick and mortar it’s one or the other, there is no overlap, but hearing what you’ve said is there is a lot of overlap even before COVID from things like the digital marketing perspective, and we’re using some of the same tools for ad placement and eyeballs and using your laptop or your cell phone as a window to window shopping. So, there is a lot of overlap. I would also make the statement. You tell me if I’m wrong, that especially coming into COVID that some of these retailers have been exceptionally bright in the way that they’ve responded and turned on a dime and created better user experiences and better community, which will continue to drive traffic into their stores, because those are some things that e-commerce brands, strictly e-commerce brands and e-commerce platforms cannot replicate, right? So, it would be safe to say that retail is not dead. It would be safe to say that eCommerce is definitely growing faster than almost any industry out there, but especially in some sectors and in some industries, retail will continue not only to survive, but also to grow going into 2021. I’ll be honest and say, I have a lot of these interviews that I do, where you would talk about really cool stuff, but I don’t walk away really feeling like man, I learned something that’s completely counterintuitive to what I thought it would be, but I feel that way walking out of here, like, I really feel like not only have you told me something that I didn’t necessarily think I would agree with or disagree with, but I actually feel like you’ve changed my perception, which is awesome. So, I hope that what we’ve talked about has been to all of you as listeners. So Nicole, we’re looking at wrapping up this podcast and you’re standing on a stage talking to tens of thousands of e-commerce sellers. And you can make one final statement regarding brick and mortar and retail, and it could be your advice. It could be your perception of something. It can be your prediction, but you’re on a soap box right now talking to tens of thousands of e-commerce sellers. What do you want to say to us?

Tim Jordan: Nicole Leinbach: I actually want to take all of our business hats off for a second and put on our consumer hats. So, as we make choices as consumers, we are choosing what will survive and what will not looking ahead. Okay. So, our actions are highly influential as customers. And so, we’ve seen that already happened through COVID with what hasn’t survived. We’ve also seen was thrived during this period. So as customers, I would just challenge you, look at your hometown community, look at the communities you love. Make choices that will support these communities by spending at businesses, whether that is through an in store experience, a buy online pickup in store or even e-commerce okay? Because as business leaders, we need to recognize that our businesses, many of us are small business owners, including myself, including those listening sellers, marketplace sellers. Those are also small business owners for many of them. But let’s look around our communities to make sure that as we reshape the future of retail, we do so responsibly as customers.

Tim Jordan: Man, that gave me goosebumps. I feel so empowered now. That’s amazing. Well, thank you so much for, Nicole for coming on. If anybody wanted to get in touch with you, how could they track you down?

Tim Jordan: Nicole Leinbach: So they can always find me @retailminded.com or nicole@retail minded, or of course, Instagram @retailmindedworld, or Twitter @retailminded.

Tim Jordan: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being on those of you that are listening. If you found some value in some good tips in this, as I always ask, please leave some reviews. If you’re watching on YouTube, hit the thumbs up button, hit the subscribe button to the channel and share if you’re in seller groups, if you’re an entrepreneurial groups or whatever you’re in, if you can share this to people that would find value in this, please do so because we want to help the community at large. And as I continue to learn every day, that community is larger than I expected because now we can start rolling up a lot of these brick and mortar stores into our community as well. So thank you again, Nicole. Hopefully, maybe like 2021. We’ll get to hang out again and see each other in person. I look forward to that. And for those of you listening, thanks for sticking through it and listening to all of this and we’ll see you guys on the next episode.