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A Brick-and-Mortar Revival: Online Sellers Move Into Storefronts

 September 23, 2020 |  Property Management, Commercial Real Estate News |  commercial real estate trends, special purpose facility, building renovation, retail space

With the rise of online shopping, there’s been a steady decline in the number of traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Many big box retailers from Toys R Us to GAP have been closing their doors. Most recently, Pier 1 Imports filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and closed down nearly 500 stores. As more and more chains announce closures and layoffs, they also leave behind the abandoned buildings that once housed them. Some commercial property owners are looking at innovative ways to transform these former shopping centers to attract new businesses and customers.

From medical facilities to multi-family units,there’s a large array of options for property owners looking to revive retail buildings. But more and more, it looks like empty storefronts may once again be used for their intended purpose. Though online retailers mainly advertise through social media, they’re still looking at ways to get their products directly in peoples’ hands. Companies like Amazon, Warby Parker, Casper and more are looking to open up in-person showrooms. These showrooms are smaller than a traditional shopping center. Since retailers using a showroom model won’t need to house a large amount of inventory, kiosks and food stands can fit in with ease. After some time, these once abandoned spaces may begin to look like the brick-and-mortar shopping centers of the past, just with a few modern adjustments.

One cause of the shift to storefronts for online retailers has to do with the amount of competition. Dozens of sellers appear online frequently, and with the popularity of processes like drop shipping, it can be hard to get and stay ahead of the crowd. Setting up a small location where customers can try out and buy certain products gives retailers a leg up. They are also able to save money on advertising and make purchasing more efficient for clients. The decreasing price in property is another draw for online retailers--they can set up shop in prime locations thanks to the current online shopping trend.

The majority of companies looking to set up shop are those whose products are “try then buy.” These are items like clothing, eyeglasses, electronics, mattresses and even food. Having these products strictly online can make purchasers wary, especially if there isn’t an associate readily available to answer any questions or concerns that they may have.

Even though the outlook for big box stores can seem bleak with various companies closing, there’s still a demand for quality retail space. Showrooms look to merge the purchasing process of the past with the luxury of online shopping. Commercial property owners shouldn’t automatically give up on a space. Instead, give it a facelift to attract the right tenants. For example, try to divide up floor space so that you can fit more vendors, and make a clear pathways for shoppers. Before you know it, your building will fill up and business will boom. For prospective commercial property owners, the “clicks to bricks” option can be a very lucrative market.

Have Your Retail Space Inspected by NPI!
Our inspectors are expertly trained to assess the condition of any commercial building. Call 402-333-9807 ex. 30 to get in touch with your local inspector.

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