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Marketing a Komunikace: There is nothing better than real contact with a customer

During the pandemic, online shopping was an undeniable salvation for retailers. For months, people had been buying all kinds of goods on the Internet – food and everyday goods, as well as lifestyle clothing and products, reinforcing a long-known trend.
A look at the closed shop windows, reports of iconic brands in insolvency, and a clear shift to online shopping all make us wonder how this accelerated movement will affect the foreseeable future of permanent stores. The future will certainly bring changes, but permanent stores are not yet to be depreciated. For example, these roles of permanent stores show why traditional shopping will last for a long time.

Permanent stores still evoke an emotional movement in a customer, which does not take place in the virtual world. Take a look at the following comparisons: If online shopping is something like online dating, then we can compare the first visit to the store to the first meeting. Internet retailers and people who get acquainted with the Internet want to look attractive on the web. Their identities are the result of how they present themselves in the online environment through witty communication and cleverly managed Instagram accounts. But the turning point is the first date – in our case, the first visit to the store. That’s when familiarity deepens – limited encounters in a small display space turn into a multisensory experience. The first physical contact helps to create a real bond between the brand and the customer. It´s either – or. Some dazzle, others disappoint. An unsuccessful first visit to the store remains in memory as well as an unsuccessful first date.

Let´s realize that the evolution of brands is affected by the pandemic and forces many of them to pass through this period. Customers know their products and the current crisis directly encourages them to seek solace in the familiar. As soon as the market recovers, the process of product and brand innovation will start again, because in a competitive environment this simply works. Brands will develop and, at the same time, they will feel the need to convince their loyal supporters again.
The ability to look authentic is a unique feature of permanent stores. This mechanism allows the brand to strengthen its credibility, to convince itself of the quality of its product, its activities and the values it presents.

The last thing we will deal with is brand loyalty. Brands usually survive. Especially those that are new or focused on a narrow circle of customers will not succeed. Permanent stores, in which there is a direct interaction with customers, can turn a person surfing the Internet into a convinced advocate. In the age of social media, such an advocate is a big triumph for the brand. Interesting events that take place directly in stores stimulate people’s affection for the brand and attract influencers. The great advantage of permanent stores is that their space can be used for anything – from special events and the introduction of new products, to workshops for the public or exercises. The existence of permanent stores gives the brands credibility both technically and personally. For every brand advocate, a visit to a store is an opportunity to “renew the promise of loyalty” to the brand and spread its message.
Although permanent stores are no longer the only dominant driving force of sales and are becoming part of a broader strategy, physical presence remains essential to achieve certain goals. The existence of permanent stores has a deeper purpose. In stores, a real bond is formed, which strengthens confidence in the brand’s activities and offer. This need for binding will never disappear. The brand may have the best image in the virtual space, but without personal contact with customers, its chances are limited.

Daniel Jesenský, Ph.D., MSc., MBA, Vice President, POPAI Central Europe

– Shop!Global a POPAI UK&I (2020). Future proof formats. Research Reports – Shopper Insights. Issue 44/2020
– POPAI UK&I (2020). Covid-19. Indusry report. 43/2020
– Shop!Global (2020). Retail Roadmap for 2021and Beyond – Navigating the Transition to a New Reality. White paper.


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