Study reveals how physical stores can remain relevant in the digital age

Nov 19, 2015, 16:16 ET from WD Partners

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Nov. 19, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Given the impact of online only retailers like Amazon and Alibaba, retailers are trying to figure out how to keep one of their biggest investments in their brand—physical stores—relevant (and open). There are numerous retailers who will be closing thousands of stores, but online only retailers are actually opening stores—and thriving. These are the brands that make up the Third Wave of physical retail.

The study, Alibaba Saves the Store. The Third Wave of Physical Retail, takes a historical look at the evolution of physical retail, examines the significance of each wave and the impact it has on the current state of stores in America.

Stores can no longer "stack-it-high-and-let-it-fly". They must be more to consumers if they want to remain relevant in an age where digital retail is making it a no-brainer for customers to get everyday items with a click of a button. But consumers actually want to shop in stores; they just want the stores to be more.

Five principles of being a Third Wave retailer emerged during the research. These are principles retailers must embrace, and truly believe in, if they want to have an impact on the lives of consumers. This major disruption in the world of retail needs to be acknowledged by retailers who believe opening more stores will bring more profits.

"Stores need to get better, much better. If stores want to win back consumers they need to give them a reason to leave the house," said Lee Peterson, Executive Vice President, Brand, Strategy, and Design at WD Partners. "Third Wave retailers are playing by their own rules and consumers know the people who work there truly believe in their product, and love what they do." Peterson will be presenting the research in January at the National Retail Federation's annual Big Show in New York City.

"Consumer spending is up, but foot traffic has been down for years," said Peterson. "Stores need to commit to being social playgrounds and fulfillment centers, and give customers a truly unique and unforgettable experience."

About WD

WD Partners helps global retail brands create meaning within consumer culture. We innovate where online and offline converge, identifying cultural and demographic shifts that represent growth opportunities for brands. For more information, visit

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SOURCE WD Partners