So Are Shoppers Using Bricks or Clicks?Some of the best retailers touch their customers seamlessly, whether through e-commerce, catalogs, direct mail or brick and mortar. Technology has improved the customer experience at all levels: the front of the house, the logistics chain, its efficiency and pricing, and customer knowledge and service. Social media will continue to enhance the connectivity of the customer and retailer, but in this omnichannel world the brand is more important than ever. A bricks-and-mortar strategy enables retailers to holistically present and establish their brands, create an experience that inspires customers and allows them to socialize and interact with others. Kimco Realty ( KIM), the largest shopping center landlord in the nation, is landlord to many "best in class" retailers including Home Depot ( HD), Wal-Mart ( WMT), Kohl's ( KSS) and TJ Maxx ( TJX). Dave Henry, Kimco's CEO and chairman, explains why "bricks and mortar" is a critical channel for retailers:
"It is increasing clear, with the striking success of Apple ( AAPL) Stores, that product manufacturers (even Amazon.com ( AMZN) in due course) need physical showroom space and stores in high-traffic retail centers. Combined with the growing demand for neighborhood goods and services of all kinds -- restaurants, health clubs, theaters, etc., -- together with an increasing population, very limited new supply, and the strong probability that e-commerce retailers will have to collect sales taxes, the future continues to be bright for brick-and-mortar stores."Tanger Factory Outlet ( SKT), the only pure outlet-focused REIT in the nation, has also forged a strategic social network that integrates the brick model with the click model. Tanger's president and CEO, Steven B. Tanger, says the following:
"Obviously, the convenience and 24/7 availability of e-commerce resonates strongly with consumers, but while online and mobile sales continue to grow, I do not believe that it takes away from consumers' excitement over visiting brick and mortar shopping centers. At Tanger Outlets, we are continually bringing in more in-demand designer and brand-name tenants to provide in-season and on-trend merchandise for our shoppers. Outlet centers provide a one-stop shop that offers great brands at a value price, in one location, in contrast to shopping online where consumers have to search for deals for their favorite brands individually. We also understand that the shopping experience itself is as important as the products that our tenants sell, which is why we fill our centers with dining options and often host concerts or special events at our properties. We want to ensure that we provide those traveling to visit our centers a unique and exciting shopping experience that cannot be replicated online."