Bring a Competitive Edge Back to Your Flagship Store

Posted on April 1, 2020 by Michael Benarroch

Bring a Competitive Edge Back to Your Flagship Store

Posted on April 1, 2020 by Michael Benarroch

Has your once innovative flagship store grown stale in the face of competition? Bring back an edge (and customers) to your flagship

For many years, innovation has been used as a sweeping term to describe the latest and greatest technologies, leaving a trail of fear of missing out in its wake. After all, we know what happened to Blockbuster, Kodak, and Borders when they failed to innovate, and now, the stories of those former companies are used as cautionary tales for retailers looking to bring a competitive edge back to flagship stores.

But in the retail world, innovation for the sake of innovation isn’t the answer. Online spending now accounts for 14.3% of all retail sales when factoring out items not available to purchase online, like fuel. E-commerce sales rose by 16% from 2016 to 2017, compared to 2% growth for brick and mortar stores in that same year. And of those consumers who do purchase in-store, 88% of them are using online platforms to research products and inform their buying decisions.

For physical retailers, growth is no longer dependent on opening new stores using a proven process, but by selecting new technology, products, and services that allow you to increase or maintain your competitive edge — a feat that can only be achieved when you understand what your customers value most in their shopping experience. 

Let’s explore four ways that flagship stores fall short in building the right experiences and how you can bring a competitive advantage back to your flagship!

1. Redefine the purpose of your flagship store

Online shopping hasn’t stripped away the value and necessity of brick-and-mortar, but it has breathed new life into its purpose and role, allowing retailers to reconsider how they can bring a competitive edge back to flagship stores.

We’re living in a multichannel world, where consumers have blurred the lines between online and offline shopping to the point where it’s simply shopping.

We’re also in an omnichannel state where customers expect little to no friction in moving from one medium to the next, and consumers are willing to give big rewards to brands and stores who can successfully achieve this fluidity. Data shows that omnichannel engagement rates are 3x higher than non-omnichannel efforts, with 250% higher purchasing frequency and 13% more value per order.

In response to multichannel and omnichannel challenges, retailers must reassess the role their flagship store will play by understanding what your customers need, want, and expect from you. Let’s look at some of your most likely competitive advantages:

●       Local convenience — Customers value the speed and ease of convenience by shopping locally without waiting or paying for shipping.

●       Local economy — As much as 60% of customers are willing to pay more for products if they feel they’re supporting a local business. Even 76% of Amazon Prime members say they prefer to shop local for holidays.

●       Time management — Customers see your store as providing them the best use of their time, helping them to make quick buying decisions and buy items in an instant.

●       Inspiration — Flagship stores have the power to surprise and delight their customers, which is ideal for those who don’t know what they want or need until the right item inspires them.

●       Experience — Some things are better seen in person, where shoppers can smell, touch, hear, see, and even taste products before they commit to buying them.

●       Social interaction — Online stores have eliminated the social aspect of shopping, which creates huge potential for flagship stores.

●       Expertise — Do your customers rely on someone with expertise to help them make a buying decision?

Retailers need to ask how they can achieve the above advantages in a way that’s profitable but still focused on customer experience. 

2. Focus on quality over quantity

Your flagship store is considered the most important store in your chain, usually with the largest volume of sales or most up-to-date technology and design. In essence, it’s the model store that all of your other stores are built upon. 

But square footage isn’t the only element that will impress your buyers, and the “bigger and better” mentality for your flagship store isn’t always effective. More than 9,300 retail stores closed in 2019 alone, marking another banner year for the retail apocalypse. In New York alone, vacant retail space has doubled in the past decade, and other areas tell similar stories.

The quality over quantity debate also refers to the type of customer you want to attract to your flagship store. Rarely can a business be everything to everyone — even the world’s biggest brands like Walmart and Amazon have their audience limitations.

It’s fair to argue that successful flagship stores can maintain a competitive advantage by investing quality into a smaller footprint. This not only helps to reduce overhead costs but also forces creativity and selectiveness that will cater to the right customer and their needs. 

3. Feel first, think second

Flagship stores usually carry the same items that people can get from any of your other stores or online, so what brings people through the door?

In short, it’s the experience. Flagship stores are the immersive experience that makes them a destination shop, with an “extra” factor that makes it more alluring, exciting and inviting. It’s multi-sensory and emotional, appealing to both login and emotion. In fact, our brains process emotion faster than logic, which is why we reach for a cookie while on a diet or buy that extra magazine at the checkout even though we know we don’t really need to read it.

Guide your customers through this sense-sparking journey. Use scent, texture, color, and juxtaposition to speak to their emotional side to create a store that inspires.

4. Invest in the human element

Online shopping is convenient, but there’s still no substitute for the human element of buying in person. Research shows that about two out of ten respondents notably miss the interaction with a salesperson when shopping for items, while another study found that 83% of consumers want human interaction in a customer service experience. 

Hands down, brick and mortar stores still have the competitive advantage of using real, knowledgeable staff members to boost the in-store experience. These interactions can help to achieve the purpose of your flagship store, such as streamlining in-store shopping for customers, providing high-level product expertise, and even providing emotional fulfillment on a human level.


Your in-store experience isn’t just great for customers, but for you as a retailer, and when it comes to your flagship, the right in-store experience will help create loyal followers and bring a competitive edge back to your store. It’s the experience you provide that customers simply can’t get anywhere else. At CBSF, we’ve helped countless retailers achieve just that, and can help you do the same. Chat with us today about elevating your in-store experience through innovative retail design.