Omnichannel: A solution to the burden of commercial real estate

With the memory of a crippling economic downturn still seared in their minds, retailers are constantly looking for ways to increase efficiency and decrease cost, to be best prepared if the economy takes another turn for the worse. When demand dropped, oversized, overpriced and underused retail space became dead weight that had to be cut.


Beyond the fear of having unnecessarily high overhead costs, there are several other factors that are forcing retailers to rethink their strategy for future stores.  Development of new retail space was brought to a standstill across most of the country during the downturn. The halt in construction left us with quite a shortage of good retail space, especially now that the economy is picking back up and retailers are vying for new storefronts. Combine that shortage with increasing interest rates on commercial loans and “unbelievably high” barriers to entry, and the need to innovate in the retail-real estate space becomes even more urgent.

Now that the economy is picking back up again, some retailers are finding ways to utilize omnichannel strategies to create stores that are smaller, more cost-efficient and substantially more engaging.  Staples recently opened 2 Omnichannel Stores that represent the tip of the iceberg of their future brick & mortar plans.  20110704-084231One of the most important features of these omnichannel stores is their size – approximately 12,000 sq ft, or just over half the size of your standard Staples. Equipped with several multi-function kiosks that provide access to over 100,000 products, the omnichannel stores will be able to dedicate their decreased floor space to their top selling SKUs while still offering customers their full range of goods and services in store.

Other features of the omnichannel stores include interactive meeting spaces, in-store tablets to provide additional product information, fast and easy online ordering and real-time availability info.  Staples has plans to convert 45 additional locations into omnichannel stores by renegotiating leases or relocating to smaller locations, presumably leading to a massive savings in real estate overhead costs.

Holition_Augmented_reality4This is just one example of how the adoption of omnichannel-based initiatives is creating a more streamlined, cost effective and customer-centric experience. It’s an exciting time to be in this space….We’re seeing the future of retail happen right now and we’ve only just scratched the surface.