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OPINION: Why we shouldn't give up on bricks and mortar retail

Laura  Barnes
OPINION: Why we shouldn't give up on bricks and mortar retail

Over the past year, retailers have been faced with news story after news story about how footfall is declining on our high streets and more and more physical stores are facing closure.

They’ve been told time and time again that online retail is king and anyone who doesn’t fully embrace it will likely be left watching the tumbleweed roll past their empty shop window.

While it’s certainly true that online retail is becoming the number one choice for an abundance of consumer categories, the MI market has an important card up its sleeve: most musicians want to try before they buy.

This alone does not guarantee you’ll outdo online, though. If you have the best store in the world, but you don’t make the customer want to buy specifically from you, then you’re probably going to be a victim of showrooming – the practice of visiting a shop to examine a product before going away and buying it online.
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An omnichannel approach is something that many industry experts have suggested as a way to help physical retail stores embrace the new way of shopping.

This means making sure you have a decent web presence and able to satisfy your customers’ needs in-store and when they need something but are unable to get to your store.

This all ties together with the key ingredient of great customer care. Having enthusiastic and approachable staff goes a long way.

“We have lost an enormous number of music stores in the past few years, and this shows no signs of halting. However, this does not mean that there is no requirement for bricks and mortar stores,” Music Shipping Company’s Craig Fenney told MI Pro.

“There is a viable model for good stores; from owner-managed specialists to multi–outlet nationals. These have be to be well stocked, well managed and enthusiastically staffed by knowledgeable and attentive staff with some innovative thinking and hard work also being part of the equation.”

Dave Sinclair of DSin Guitar Services told MI Pro that although he does receive a portion of sales through online, he believes a physical shop is a must-have for today’s MI business.

“As a new start business – 11 months trading, doing repairs, upgrades, setups, lessons and retail of fretted instruments – I feel my premises are the main stay of my business. The online presence is accounting for 25% of sales but through Facebook about 50% of advertising. 

“In my humble opinion, a music shop needs a bricks and mortar presence for credibility.”

An impressive example of how physical MI stores are still in demand is PMT’s recent expansion on Oxford.

The retailer recently opened its 20th store and PMT’s Simon Gilson discussed with MI Pro why he believes a physical store is still a fantastic way to keep customers engaged.

While the high street isn’t exactly what it used to be, it’s clear from the above comments, along with the hoards of retailers arriving at Frankfurt today for this year’s Musikmesse, that there is certainly still a place for bricks and mortar MI stores.

And while MI Pro will continue to bring you the latest retail stats and figures, we will always endeavour to cover all the positive bricks and mortar retail news that we find.

If you’re opening a new store, expanding your business, or interested in writing an advice piece about MI retail, get in touch with me at lbarnes@nbmedia.com.

Tags: Retail , Opinion , bricks and mortar , physical retail

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