Jason Ellis, Senior Company Counsel Staples Inc., Talks Retail
Real estate is one element of today’s successful retailer. Jason emphasizes that 21st century retailers need to find that proper equilibrium among bricks and mortar locations, online sales, and the supply chain in order to provide customers the experience they need and want. The real estate “secret sauce” of the right number of stores with the right square footage in the right markets is a recipe that is evolving faster than ever.
You cannot look at these as simply pieces of real estate. For us, as a national retailer, it’s how do we best service our customers.
And honestly, real estate is just one tool in our tool chest with which we’re able to service our customers. We have a lot of small to medium-sized businesses where we want to be able to give them whatever they need to operate, and the retail store where they walk into around the corner is just one way they can do that. We’re a large internet retailer and we want them to come online, we want them to call their sales associate, and whoever best pulls that all together will win this retail game.
Retailers that are able to find that proper mix of how to integrate online sales with their retail footprint, with their logistics and supply chain, who can best utilize all of those resources to service their customers, they’ll win. People always want the experience of going out to a store and purchasing what they need. Even if they go and look at it online and sometimes even if they can get a better price online, they still want that experience. And if you can give them that experience you’ll drive traffic to your store. For example, one way we do this is we’ll offer a product online, and we’ll tell them you might be able to get a better price in the store. We’ll drive traffic to our stores that way. So it’s a combination. Some means work better for certain customers than others. It’s a continuing evolution. It’s just going to constantly evolve. We will get to the–as most retailers will find–right equilibrium. Whatever it is for the right number of stores, the right markets, the right places within those markets, and the right size store. You’ve got to downsize both as to where you are in the country and then also what is the right prototype, and what’s your right square footage to service those markets. And that’s going to continue to change depending on what you sell, where you sell it, and who’s buying it. That’s evolving faster than it has in the past, so you’ve just got to stay on top of it, and that’ll dictate the real estate metrics.
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