The 80/20 Rule for Physical Retail is Rapidly Changing Are You Ready for Your Store?

Brick and mortar stores were required to stock their shelves with 80/20 items and 20/20 items that would delight or surprise customers. This balance has been altered by e-commerce. You can order everything you need, from toilet paper, toiletries, to underwear, to everyday wear, all with a single click. Retailers need to offer customers a variety of experiences and educational opportunities. They also need highly-engaged sales staff. Physical retail is no longer basic.

Showrooms are replacing stores

This was touched upon in previous posts. But we cannot stress enough how shops are evolving into showrooms. This new model of physical retail provides unique experiences that cannot be replicated via e-commerce. This could include personalization, super-service and in-person technology (think virtual or augmented reality).

These showrooms emphasize human interaction. There is a lot of talk about automated checkout. However, customers love to speak to knowledgeable people about the best way to buy. Guess what? These highly trained sales staff consultants excel at upselling. Problem? The problem? Customers should be able to hear new ideas and are still in the shopping mode.

It’s these new ideas that drive brick-and-mortar sales today.

Education is a major focus

CVS, the nation’s largest drugstore chain is investing big in in-store healthcare education. Just it received preliminary approval for a merger with Aetna, a health insurance company. CVS’s deep dive into healthcare is a way of fighting online prescription sales, especially by Amazon. CVS encourages customers to use CVS MinuteClinics for managing health issues such as diabetes, weight, blood pressure, and weight. CVS is also promoting holistic solutions, despite the fact that a lot of merger attention has been placed on prescription drugs.

It is well-known that sleep, healthy eating habits and hand washing can all help reduce the risk of illness. The retailer has gone big with the display to emphasize the importance of sleep. The Zs look great and are covered with sleep aids from masks to supplements. CVS recognizes that there is no one solution that will work for everyone so they are tapping into the personalization trend. You can choose the best option(s),

These ” Wellness Zones” are spacious, welcoming spaces. Five years ago it would have been impossible to dedicate so much space, particularly in the non-luxury segment, to disruptive display. CVS is increasing signage and display to help shoppers make better purchasing decisions. CVS’s educational approach makes shopping easier and more enjoyable than surfing the internet. You want immediate solutions when you’re tired or fighting a cold.








CVS also uses its beauty “trend wall”, to display information about new launches and niche brands, to maximize its use of information signage. Shelf tags are a great way to highlight healthy foods and diet-specific foods, such as high-protein, low fat, sugar-free or gluten-free. CVS plans to place shelf stags in all of its stores and not just in the food aisle to allow customers to choose what is best for them.

Eileen Fisher’s retail paradise – “ohm” that leads to “ahs”.

This iconic brand of stylish, comfortable, and sustainable clothes could easily make use of all its floor space to sell. The brand’s new MakingSpace community-centered retail model allows it to trade in its sales fixtures for workshops or neighborhood events. Customers are asked to fill out cards when they walk into the store. One customer stated, “I’ve always considered the company to be more than just clothes.” It is all about creating meaningful impact.

Eileen Fisher, in contrast to CVS’s over-sized aesthetic, is sticking to its minimalist ethos. Eileen Fisher is not content to stuff more t-shirts with wraps and sweaters. Instead, she creates space for community and experience, making it a destination for body/clothes as well as mind/meditation and the soul/artisans. Shoppers can see how to reuse worn clothes through floor displays, while story boards provide information about textiles, artists, and applications. This is the kind of experience you can only have in person.

REI – Real experience in-store

REI has been a firm believer in the 80/20 rule. High-touch personal interaction is a hallmark of REI’s sales team. They have some of the best floor staff I’ve ever encountered. They helped me to find wool socks for our family’s hiking adventures, and they also stocked me with everything I needed for our first kayak purchase. Every time I go in, it’s an amazing experience. I trust that someone will help me and share their vast knowledge. I leave happy and more than satisfied. I seldom return to purchase.

Even successful specialty retailers like REI have to evolve. REI CEO Jerry Strizke asks, “If your specialty isn’t differentiated, how can you differentiate?”. The newer REI stores in Washington, D.C., are now turning over sales space to community space. The flagship store, which is the fifth of five, features in-store classes and gear shop that flow into common areas, so all visitors can be inspired by new information. Stritzke says, “…community and experiences, and doing this both in-stores and online.” Although it may seem old-fashioned, it is still relevant.

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In-store strategies that evolve from inspired legacies

We have highlighted three legacy brands: CVS has been around since 1963, REI since 1938, and Eileen Fisher from 1984. These brands are responding to today’s shoppers, both in-store as well as online.

These brands, and many others, had to make difficult decisions about how to get rid of decades of traditional floor space usage. But survival is not easy. Too many brick and mortar stores still believe in the maxim that every dollar should be squeezed from the retail floor. These examples demonstrate that it is possible to drive sales by connecting people – shoppers with sales representatives, shoppers with like-minded enthusiasts and shoppers who are on an adventure of discovery. You create a synergy with your customers that lights up their customer’s day and increases your revenue.