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CNBC has a story about how bricks-and-mortar retailers coming out of the pandemic "now need to get creative as shopping habits change and customers become more demanding."  It is, the story suggests, more important than ever to "to get their physical presence right," to redefine how they use their physical spaces, and go beyond the simple "exchange of goods."

Some of the possibilities suggested by CNBC:

•  Follow the path being taken by Target, which seems to be trying to develop a mini-mall approach in its stores, doing things like creating Apple boutiques that will draw in shoppers.

•  Focusing on pop-up stores, "spaces that are open temporarily to show off a particular line or product, and have been gaining in popularity in recent years."  One of the things that a pop-up store or installation can do is create the perception of exclusivity - this item is only available here and now, and may be gone tomorrow.

•  Embrace sustainability in all its permutations, which plays into the "value versus values debate … the need to be really, really clear on your sustainability credentials, ethical sourcing, etc but at the same time offering great value for money that doesn’t just mean cheapness but value for money to the consumers."

KC's View:

I absolutely believe that retailers - especially in the food business - may be about to deal with some of the most competitive times they've ever faced.  The approaches cited by CNBC are just three of the possibilities as retailers seek ways to differentiate themselves.

Seems to me that one important approach is not to think of e-commerce in an oppositional way, rather have a mindset that integrates it into the broader brand and value proposition.  Go back to the word that was used so much at the beginning of the pandemic - essential.