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Trendspotting: ‘Click & Mortar’ Rush Precipitates New Environment, Solutions


As discussed last week custom facades as advertisements have migrated from the domain of premiere retail flagships to many, varied uses across the commercial and retail spectrum.

This trend was earlier spotted by Gensler On: Lifestyle as part of its “Top Ten Retail Trends in 2013.”

As a national sign manufacturing and project management company on the fabrication and installation end of ‘the façade as advertisement’ trend we can confirm its arrival en mass.

Which brings us to another trend years in the making. One with far reaching consequences for the retail environment, and one poised for a breakthrough in 2016: Click & Mortar retail.

For the uninitiated, Click & Mortar is a type of business model that includes both online and offline operations, which typically include a website and a physical store. A Click & Mortar company can offer customers the benefits of fast online transactions or traditional face-to-face service. In 2016 the migration pace of e-commerce platforms to “IRL” locations will quicken.

Anecdotally we are seeing this first hand; having already assisted one top five online retailer with the challenges of entering the physical retail world.

The point though is simply that in 2016 “Click & Mortar” will cease being a trend. It is the new normal.

As early as 2014 online fashion brands Warby Parker, Birchbox, NastyGal, Zappos, and Frank & Oak all took the plunge with Pop-Up Shops, and, in many cases, laid down solid retail roots in the form of flagship locations.

Again and again we are seeing “operations that started as online-only, but are now in the process of expanding into the real world with so-called bricks-and-mortar stores.”

Concurrently retail mainstays are now taking a fresh look at their physical space and store front branding to keep pace with the tastes of a consumer segment whose relationship with their established brand began in earnest not in-person, but online.

This creates a challenging retail environment with two distinct problems that American Signcrafters seeks to address:

1. Established retailers are seeking to ‘refresh’ hundreds, in some cases thousands, of stores in a short period of time, and

2. Nouveau retailers are entering the brick-and-mortar retail competition for the first time with limited understanding of its construction challenges.

These distinct challenges have led American Signcrafters to debut two distinct service offerings in 2016: the Retail Rapid Refresh / R3 ™ and the Click & Mortar Consult™.

Retail Rapid Refresh / R3 ™

What we do best are large-scale branding conversions and signage re-fresh projects over large swaths of territory; conversions of scale and scope that leave most gasping for air.

We average 684 locations for our large-scale conversion client, and in many cases have performed many more than that (and we do it in a very short time frame). For instance, for the largest retail bank by number of branches we performed more than 1,250 location conversion, or rebrands. For the largest bank by market share we have performed more than 1,008 location conversions; including more than 258 renovation / de novo projects.

Our experience in the financial services industry, along with its federally mandated ‘grand-unveiling’ requirements, makes American Signcrafters uniquely suited to handle multi-state and bi-coastal retail brand re-fresh and conversion projects.

For the retailer challenged by the demands of updating a brand – in what appears to be simultaneous fashion – our Retail Rapid Refresh / R3™ is the solution.

Click & Mortar Consult™

Then of course there is the entirely different set of challenges for the so-called nouveau retailers.

Here we have found that online companies accustomed to being nimble and agile on the e-commerce side of retail are challenged by the breadth of decisions, planning, and labor tied to the preparation and branding demands associated with a successful physical retail store.

The planning, the permitting, the vinyl pre-launch and post-launch, adequate sign package, lighting, custom retail space, and even initial sign or store front design are all relatively new concerns for a company that previously existed only online.

Moreover, they simply must provide an IRL retail experience that mirrors the online experience of its loyal millennial consumer base.

All this takes an expertise and experience e-commerce companies typically don’t have, yet. This is why American Signcrafters offers the Click & Mortar Consult™ – a proprietary menu of solutions acquired over decades of experience serving the nation’s leading premium retail brands.

A “One-Stop-Shop” consultation to identify and address the acrylic, architectural, design-assist, engineering, fabrication, maintenance, manufacturing, metalwork, installation, printing, sign-hanging, and service call needs that never existed before.

These image-based solutions are now a necessity for the physical store the way a reliable network provider is a necessity for the online store. Stated another way, American Signcrafters offers the sign and brand solutions for the physical store the way a trusted graphic and design expert provides the images and design required for the online store.

If you are an online retailer taking the plunge into the physical retail world then a Click & Mortar Consult™ may be right for you.

In either case, established retailer seeking a refresh or nouveau retailer seeking market entry, we invite you to visit American Signcrafters at SPECS (Booth #319). We are pleased to have an informal discussion of how we may assist in your continued growth.

As always readers are invited to contact me directly with questions, [email protected].

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