by Lacy Beasley, Oct 2019
The 2019 Alabama Retail Real Estate Forum hosted by the Alabama Center for Real Estate (ACRE) and the International Council of Shopping Centers brought together more than 130 commercial real estate experts from all parts of Alabama to highlight current trends impacting retail real estate. Lacy Beasley, President of Retail Strategies, moderated the panel titled, “Tenants Changing the Retail Landscape” including local business owners Dr. Patrick Greco from The Joint Chiropractic, Ben Lancaster, the Founder of Aviate Brand, and Luan Nguyen from Wheelhouse Academy and Battle Republic. These growth categories of fitness, fashion and physician are occupying today’s retail shopping center space.
The panel focused on the integrations of online with brick and mortar and creating consumer loyalty through the brand experience as told from some of the southeast’s newest retailers. When asked specifically about the topic of bricks and clicks, the panelists spoke to the importance of having an emotional connection to the brand, from online to brick and mortar.
Ben Lancaster: My product is carried in approximately 500 retail stores across the country. We sell a hat with three letters on it. For me, it’s about social media presence of having photos traveling on Instagram in our hats. Aviate Brand, a clothing company that sells merchandise with airport codes on it, has a tagline of “Play Hard. Travel Often.” Its Instagram feed is filled with customers experiencing life in Aviate Brand’s gear, showcasing a connection people have with the apparel company. My largest challenge is supply and demand from the retailers’ supply needs to warehouse stock and leveraging debt without overextending the risk.
Dr. Greco: We are very service-oriented at The Joint. As such, the reciprocity of our wellness plans and packages allow our patients to utilize our services seamlessly at any of our 470 clinics nationwide. Additionally, our electronic medical record system is available network-wide, so any of our doctors of chiropractic can view patient history, treatment plans, pre-existing conditions and preferred adjustment techniques so patients receive consistent delivery of care. We also provide educational information about chiropractic care, health and wellness through our online presence.
Luan Nguyen: For Wheelhouse Academy it’s all about community-driven fitness. The gym has an active social media feed they’ve used to create groups and competition. When you scroll through Facebook or Instagram you see events, competition and activities that showcase loyal brand ambassadors. A musician can play the guitar in their home. The real fun and improvement comes when they jam with others and form a band. The same is true with fitness. You can do it at home by yourself, but to advance in fitness, you need community that comes with a gym.
An audience member asked maybe the best question of the day, “We’re probably overdue a recession. How are you planning for that now?”
Dr. Greco: Because we offer chiropractic care services, which is an alternative method in relieving neck and back stress or tension, we feel our convenient business model will fare well in a potential recession. Many patients stop going to their insurance-based chiropractor due to employment and insurance changes. The Joint offers routine and affordable chiropractic care through it’s monthly membership, so, consumers just come in and get adjusted when they need the service, which is a perfect option.
Nguyen: A recession doesn’t scare us, we are constantly trying to get people in the mindset of investing in themselves first. We’re always channeling that message to our membership. A membership-based business has that ongoing challenge whether we’re in recession or not. We didn’t see a dip in the previous recession. P90X and Taibo were around during the last recession so the concept of going doing exercise at home isn’t new. Getting into a fitness center where there is group fitness keeps people engaged.
Lancaster: Finding a delicate balance of supply and demand is an ongoing challenge. We started breaking our merchandising orders down to get 36 smaller orders throughout the year instead of twelve larger orders. “Last mile delivery” is something that every retailer is thinking about. By having 36 smaller deliveries it helps me control my spending and delivery so that I’m not eating the inventory.
Interested in learning more?
As the retail industry continues to advance and consumer habits change, making real estate and business decisions based on how customers interact with your brand is extremely important. If you’re interested in learning how Retail Strategies approaches retail, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.