32: Retail is not really dead – Part Two
This is the second part of the previous idea: 31: Retail is not really dead – Part One
First, I would like to mention that I recently found an idea I had in 2014, which was 5 years ago.
I even wrote a business plan, put down some financial plan, as well as registered a domain. Unfortunately, the plan was not really executed, because I did not do anything but writing up a plan.
The idea was simply, it’s called UnitedRewards. Basically, all stores are united to share the rewards. Similar to having a cashback, but instead, use the rewards to buy something from another store, gain a discount from another store, or get a coupon from another store.
This is particularly suitable for small businesses that are nearby.
Therefore, to make this work better, we need to build a community with stores embedded. Currently in North America, many residential areas are very distant to a shopping area. It really doesn’t have to be that way. I understand there is zoning code constraint, but imagine if a residential area is walkable to shop grocery, clothes, gift, or access to library, will that be easier? We really don’t have to drive 10 or 20 minutes going to a big box, why can’t we have smaller stores around our neighborhood to have everything we need?
It will be perfectly fine if Target builds a few smaller size stores around this community, such Target Home decor, Target groceries, or Target Clothes. Those won’t be too big, but around the community. And then we have many other stores and restaurants within the residential area. For example, a community can be designed like this:
Those blue areas are designated as houses, town houses, or condos. People living there are encouraged to shop “local”. Therefore, all stores in the community are “united” and share rewards. To make such a community further attracted, the shopping rewards can be used to redeem for HOA (if there is any) or management fee (for condo or town house).
The next step of this business plan is building another community similar in a different area. Two neighborhoods can share rewards as well. And then more and more, we have other communities joined together, people are encouraged to walk among their own community to shop, because the shopping will be incentive.
Of course, having incentives is not the only thing to encourage people to walk in a store. Some people prefer to do research online, and feel online shopping are easier to search and find what they want. Therefore, a store that participated in UnitedRewards will automatically have its own home page and a complete e-commerce website. People can search which store has it.
One interesting feature we can support is: the user can request an item, the store will notify the user the item has arrived in store, they can come and feel it or see it, whatever they like. But they will not be obligated to see it; however, since the users walk into a store, they will see other items, so there will always be a chance people will buy something else, or at least see and experience this store. Maybe this time the user is not interested, next time they may.
Building a community with inconvenience and incentive of shopping at the local stores will be a way to bring retail back to live. This is the quick summary of my idea. But as you see, I don’t think it’s an idea a single person can accomplish. Let me know what you think about it. There are more to this idea.