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Nov. 1, 2017

Brick & mortar reloaded: Make retail fun again

The future of brick and mortar retailers lies in profitable specialty boutique retailers that are able to execute successful retail entertainment concepts.

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By Daryn Fillis
For years, brick and mortar chains and department stores have dominated the retail industry. Today, big box stores like Toys "R" Us along with a list of retail giants have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The layman may blame the rise of online shopping, but in today's marketplace, mid-tier consumers are tired of paying for products they can conveniently obtain online.

Consumers are seeking unique and personalized experiences that go far beyond an impersonal click of a button.

Business owners who are unwilling to adjust to today's consumer expectations will be left behind and forced to shut down. In the 90s, music executives blamed Napster for cutting into their record sales profits by providing consumers access to digital music streaming. Meanwhile, Apple thrived with the introduction of iTunes, earning $45.4 billion in quarterly revenue just in its fiscal 2017 third quarter. Traditional retail is on the decline because business owners long opted for a one-size fits all solution; retail became ordinary. Millennials who value experiences over material possessions, forcing retailers to further adapt, will soon influence today's fast paced dual-income households.

In order for retailers to adjust to shifting consumer behaviors, they must invest in creating one-of-a-kind spaces, foster knowledgeable staff and deliver personalized experiences. The three key components of today's retail success include aesthetics, experience and quality; retail entertainment embodies all three. You can have a beautiful space, but if customer service is subpar, then don't bother. Retail entertainment delivers the value discerning consumers seek: exceptional products, out-of-this-world customer service and Instagram-worthy aesthetics.

According to Scientific American, data suggests that we are shaped by our social environment and suffer when our social bonds are threatened. Today's shoppers are no different. They are happy to sacrifice their valuable time and visit retailers who create a worthwhile experience by giving them the opportunity to talk to someone and establish a human connection.

Distroller brought to life its philosophy where people are in a continuous state of fun and embrace disruptive thinking through its experience-based specialty boutique concept, Distroller World. Its ability to promote out-of-this-world positive family play experiences through engagement, emotion and imagination allowed Distroller to expand to 60 locations in Latin America in 10 years, and make its U.S. debut in San Diego and Houston in 2017.

While others were looking at shopping malls in an antiquated way, Distroller has found success in its Fashion Valley and The Galleria mall locations.

Distroller is experiencing sales over 65 percent greater than projected from its U.S. launch, which can be attributed to its unique experience, brand conscious staff and quality products presented in an innovative retail space that is designed with the consumer at the centerpiece. Distroller has delivered an experiential retail concept focused on personalization and unique experiences that connect with consumers in ways that cannot be accomplished digitally.

This is not to say that the internet is a bad place for present-day retailers. Big box retailers that sell products are unable to compete with the internet due to high overhead costs and lack of added value. The internet wins at convenience.

Brick and mortar retailers, that not only want to survive but also thrive, need to utilize their digital presence as an extension of their brand experience to profit in today's ever-changing retail space. Storytelling is the future. In order to establish relevance in today's marketplace, retailers must offer disruptive, memorable experiences beyond linoleum tile and fluorescent lighting. The future of brick and mortar retailers lies in profitable specialty boutique retailers that are able to execute successful retail entertainment concepts.

Daryn Fillis is the CEO of Distroller, a retail entertainment brand based on a philosophy where people are in a continuous state of fun and embrace disruptive thinking. For more information, visit


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