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September 19, 2017 Shownotes:

Introducing The 19: Retail
Is Brick and Mortar Dead?

Here at Orange Label, we’ve been working in secret on a very special project. We call it The 19 – A monthly podcast covering response marketing in the world of retail. For our inaugural episode, “Is Brick and Mortar Dead?,” we interviewed everyday people to learn more about their shopping behaviors and determine if brick and mortar stores are here to stay. What we found…might come as a surprise. For all the details, be sure to click the link below and remember to tune in every month for a fresh batch of response marketing insights from Orange Label.

More About The 19

The 19 is Orange Label’s monthly podcast, tackling response marketing in the world of retail. The 19 speaks to the entrepreneurial-minded, offering insight into retail industry trends and marketing strategy best practices. When you tune into The 19, you’re not only getting response marketing insights in 19 minutes or less, you will also hear from consumers and industry influencers. Each episode will feature varied hosts, so that you can get to know the Orange Label team and history. The 19, after all, is derived from the sum of 1972, the year our business was founded.


Orange Label Podcast Script


Recorded Intro:

This is The 19. In 19 minutes or less, game-changing Insights in Retail from Orange Label, the leading response marketing agency for established brands that are driven by a fearless entrepreneurial mindset.


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Hi there, this is Gina Magnuson, Copywriter at Orange Label, and I’m going to start this episode with a question. When’s the last time you went into a store to shop? While you think on that, I’m going to share a few powerful facts we uncovered about shopping in today’s economy:

Brokerage firm Credit Suisse noted in a 2017 report that over 8,600 brick-and-mortar stores could close their doors in 2017.

A 2016 survey conducted by BigCommerce and Kelton Global found that people do online shopping in some pretty interesting situations: 43% shop while in bed, 23% shop while they’re on the clock and 10% have admitted to shopping while under the influence.

So, this brings us to the question we’re going to unpack in today’s episode: “Is brick and mortar really dead?” And who better to answer that question than you, listeners? We took it to the streets to hear the truth from everyday shoppers.


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So, before we dive right into it, let me give you some information about our participants. We had the chance to interview a pretty diverse group of people, male and female, ranging from their early 20s to their late 40s. Each person had a different home life and different priorities, some were single, others had families, and, as you can imagine, no two conversations were alike. As we talked, my questions really turned into rest stops on a winding retail roadmap. I could go on, but we’ve only got 19 minutes or less, so I’m going to play some of these interviews and let you decide: Is brick and mortar dead?

I also want to mention that these recordings took place in offices, cafes and even outside, so sound quality may vary at times.


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I’m going to bring it back to the question I asked at the beginning of the episode: When is the last time you actually went into a store and shopped? When we posed this question to our participants, we found people were most comfortable analyzing their shopping behavior by category: Clothing goes in one behavior bucket while groceries go in another and so on. Retail chain Target was also mentioned a lot in these interviews. Why? Well, as one of our participants put it:


Interview 1: “I choose to shop at Target just because they’re always like super clean and I’m not bothered a lot by their employees so I can kind of like take my time in walking around ahum tracking any everything from food to clothes, to like things for my home it’s kind of all there as well as ahum, picking up dog food on my way home if I need to.”



Target makes retail just a little more comfortable for shoppers because it puts all of these messy categories in one pristine, hassle-free location. In short: it has everything. But Target isn’t the only store that has die-hard fans. Other brands have won over customers for reasons other than cleanliness or convenience.


Interview 2 : “REI, they’re pretty helpful there so it just seems more like I’m going to a place that it’s kind of like ah, I know the people there like what I like which is like hiking and stuff like that so.  It’s kind of cool going in there asking them questions and stuff and seeing what the new products are like. And things like that. Which always change, so it’s kind of cool.”


Interview 3: “Macy’s kind of has everything and its easy because I have the app and I have the card so I get discounts……. Ahum, and then I can buy stuff on my phone and then go into the store also and see it there anything I purchased.  Ahum, so that way I can see it before I actually make the purchase.  But it’s all streamlined connected to the instore experience from my phone, to the website, to my card.”


Interview 4: “I love having people around that I can ask questions to, and who interact with me, who talk to me and they’re usually smiling and positive.  Ahum, so I mean I the first time I saw Trader Joe’s was you know four years ago when I came here.  Ahum, and I absolutely fell in love with it.  That’s the place that I go to get all my ahum, I’m loyal to a fault to that.  So yeah, like I’ll go hungry if its closed.”





And the more we talked to these shoppers, the more we discovered the depth of their in-store experience — to them, shopping is more than a simple transaction, it’s a process that is unique to each and every individual. And people feel pretty strongly about it.


Interview 4: “If I can leave for a couple of days for getting anything I usually almost never go to a store.  Especially like things like Target and Walmart and all these like really big stores.  I’m not used to them … they’re around me.  So ahum, I don’t like going to them.  Ahum, cause I didn’t grow up here so like the idea of like having a store that’s bigger than you know like a city that I lived in is insane to me. I went to Home Depot yesterday, the day before ahum, that was the first time I ever went to Home Depot, it was so big.  I had to actually get a ladder and like climb up like I’m not even kidding like nine steps up to even get what I wanted.  Like this should not be like this. Yeah so, I just have a lot of feelings about it.”


Interview 3: “In store I prefer because it’s more fun.  You usually go with like a friend or your family member or something like that and its more of a social experience.  It’s not really to go buy stuff.  At least as a female that’s how it is.  Ahum, and I like to try stuff on feel it, touch it make sure it actually looks well on me.  And it’s you know fun girl thing to do.


Interview 5: “Ahum, well personally I’m kind of OCD I like to try on clothes a lot if I’m gonna buy them.  So I don’t like to go online really so ahum, when I do go to a clothing store I typically try on the clothes a couple times to see if there’s like imperfections, and how it fits.  Just to see what the color looks like most of all in person.  And then I decide from there whether I’m gonna get it or not.  It’s usually a long process for me.


Interview 1: “For shopping I’m very particular when it comes to clothes. I like to try them on before I buy them.  So, I definitely am not an online shopper when it comes to clothing unless it’s a brand that I know like for sure that’s gonna fit me.  So, when it comes to clothing and retail stuff like that I’m very much a ahum, kind of like ah a brick visitor.



So, we’ve heard that visiting stores can be fun, it can be overwhelming, and, for some clothing shoppers, it’s the key to finding the perfect fit. People clearly have some really specific wants and needs when it comes to the ideal in-store experience, and customer service also plays a huge part in this:


Interview 4: “The colors that I got was from living spaces.  And the person that was helping me out was really really ah pleasant and interactive.  And like she told me you know like this is memory foam this is this, this is that.  So, like I got a lot of information from her which I absolutely loved.”


Interview 3: “Cause I personally don’t like it when people are asking you questions and following you around… so I guess that’s the benefit for people shopping online because no one’s there bothering you…and I’m not a fan of that.


Interview 6: “Sometimes people will suggest things to you that perhaps you didn’t think about.  So, I think that’s really important. So it kind of helps too. I think just communicating with people is really nice…I think we’re losing that.



Clearly shoppers have boundaries when it comes to customer service. Some people seek it and others avoid it. But one thing you may have heard mentioned was this idea of “personal interaction.” We wanted to learn more about what this meant to our shoppers, so we dug just a little deeper.


Interview 4 : “I look for that immediate attraction when I go out anywhere.  So, I just feel like going to a grocery store, which in my head is an errand.  I would much rather have something positive to associate with it.  Because I don’t really like doing those things…so that’s about it, I don’t really think it means a lot different as a shopper.  I think it just means as a normal human being I just like interacting with people.


Interview 6 : “Well I just think it’s getting more and more away from interacting with people.  I think it’s you know, I think I said before, if you’re coming into work and go on the elevator and there’s ahum, five people in there, and four out of those five people are on their phones,  no one is looking at anyone, no one is ahum just smiling and saying hello. I mean it’s very rare and I think it’s important. We’re losing that.



It’s true that wherever we go, our smart devices follow. In an age where we are theoretically more connected than ever, we’re still a little bit lonely and shopping is one way we can get the face-to-face interaction we crave.


That said. There’s one corner of the Internet that people cannot stop raving about:


Everyone: Amazon


Probably the least surprising thing we came across was the overwhelming popularity of Whether it was convenience, variety, price — even laziness — Amazon filled a need for the majority of our shoppers. Take this woman’s story for example:


Interview 1: “Ahum, this morning actually I took my dogs to the dog sitter and forgot to pack their treats.  And was already on my way to work.  When she was like hey do you have their treats? And I was like ah I don’t but send me your address and I have Amazon Prime.  And so I was able to order Amazon Prime and have it delivered to her house by the end of the day today so that she has the dog treats for the week that I’m gone.”



It’s true, Amazon is pretty amazing. Like this guy says:


Interview 4: “Because I don’t really know where to get like, fridge magnets, I have no idea.  Ahum, but I can just like, you know, go on Amazon and just search fridge magnets and there’s like a bunch of options. And I’m like hey there we go.



However, the one big thing that comes with online shopping is the r-word… returns.


Interview 5: “I think there’s a lot of people like me that like to try their stuff on first versus getting them online.  Cause I do see a lot of people returning things.  That return line is usually pretty long.  And they usually return a lot of stuff.  So, I don’t want a be that person.”


Interview 4: “I always grew up going to a store to like try on clothes.  And then honestly, like my body is so weird and like, I don’t really know what my sizes are.  And then I don’t really trust what the online things tell me. Because like, sometimes it doesn’t work out.  And then I get so when I have to return it, I’m like lazy as hell. Actually, that’s the moral of this whole thing.




We’ve heard some pretty interesting opinions about in-store and online shopping. Whether it’s variety or convenience, personal interaction or getting to see a product in-person, each form of retail has its perks. What was even more interesting, was how some people described online and in-store shopping as being complimentary parts of an integrated retail experience. These next two shoppers see the Internet as a friend to brick and mortar, not an opposing force.


Interview 1: “I obviously do a lot of social media so there’s a lot of influencer stuff that I follow.  So, I kind of like see what they’re wearing and stuff like that.  And so, I kind of get ideas from that and then instead of going to a home page ahum, I would rather like go into a store and be like okay like keeping like these are some of the trends that I like.  And see like is there like something that I can try on here that looks like what I’ve seen, if that’s something I would be interested in, or if that I like for me.”


Interview 6: “Looking for things on line is helpful.  Because you can get a very broad ah view of everything and where to find it.  And then you can kind of fine tune it.  You know that in that respect it’s great for time management.  Like if you just you know are looking for something instead of going to ten stores you can, you know, look it up online and then go there.



To conclude these interviews, we asked our participants the same questions I asked at the beginning of the show: “Is brick and mortar dead?” Here are a few of their answers.


Interview 2: “For someone like me, I like the brick and mortar experience.  Ahum, but I can see that just in general that it’s probably not as highly sought after than it, you know, probably was five or ten years ago. So, ahum, you know if they were to change the experience of online to, I mean, I just don’t think everything can be online.”


Interview 1: “I feel in certain industries it may be.  Ahum, but as long as ah a brick and mortar has an online option I feel like that it’s not dead or dying. Ahum, because there are there are people who buy groceries and will never buy them online.  There’s some people who only buy them online.  And for me, I’m that way with shopping with clothes.  And so, though I love being able to check out maybe what a store is offering online, I want to be able to go into the store and try them on.  So, I feel like it’s not dead or dying, it’s just evolving and they’re partnering really well together.”


Interview 4: “In certain areas it’s definitely dead, ahum, in other areas its dying and in other areas I hope that it never dies.”



Interview 6: “I think that there’s a possibility in that.  But I still think that people like to look and feel at what they’re purchasing. I mean, I think it’s important to have some kind of ahum, exchange with people (laugh) you know, because I think everything has gotten so tech you know with technology that people are losing that personal touch with people.”



So, is brick and mortar dead? Listening to these interviews, it seems like the answer to that question is more complicated than we think. And as I mentioned earlier, every person we interviewed had these separate buckets for what they purchased in-store. They typically fell into three categories: groceries, necessities and clothes or personal items. And it’s within these categories that shoppers have different opinions about brick and mortar. Another topic we heard a lot about was Amazon…


All Interviews:

I spend a lot of money on Amazon.



Yeah, remember that? With the convenience of services like Amazon Prime, seemingly endless variety and great prices, Amazon really is the power player when it comes to online shopping. Especially for those necessity shoppers who really like to maximize their time. And did you notice that people are really, really hating to have to return items? Now, that’s something we can all agree on.

When asked if brick and mortar was dead, we rarely got a straight up “no.” What we’re hearing is that it’s “evolving” to keep up with this digital world we’re living in. And we agree, the brick and mortar shopping experience has changed for many industries.



So, at the end of every episode of The 19, we provide you with a key takeaway, a little piece of knowledge you can keep in your back pocket for a rainy day. We call it, The Sum-Up. Here’s today’s Sum-Up: “Ok, sure. Amazon might be making a killing in the world of online shopping, but to implement a successful retail marketing strategy, inclusivity is the key. Each touch point, whether it be social media, on line shopping or brick and mortar, provides a unique appeal that contributes to the sales process. Shopping is more than a simple transaction – it’s an experience. In a world where social interaction is whittled down to likes and shares, people crave that human interaction and sensory experience brick and mortar stores can provide. Customers want more than goods and services, they want magic, not just as shoppers, but as people, and today, most shoppers are not only seeking this, but they’re expecting this of brick and mortar.”

So next time you sit down to draft your retail marketing strategy, remember to think in terms of –“And” not “Or”.

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Thank you for listening to The 19, clicks vs bricks, is brick and mortar dead? If you have additional thoughts on this topic, please share them with us. Visit our website, and contact us. And be sure to tune in for our next episode of clicks vs bricks, covering the topic of how shoppers spend their money.


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Recorded close:

This was The 19. Brought to you by Orange Label. If you’re interested in MORE retail response marketing, visit our blog and subscribe to our content, where we share our response marketing expertise on current retail industry topics. Visit for all the details.



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Founded in 1972

As Orange County’s longest-standing, privately held response marketing agency, we have witnessed dynamic shifts in the world of marketing. Through it all, we have ensured our clients stay at the forefront of communication and technology, driving response and value with every new endeavor.