Why Physical Retail Isn’t Dead with Ron Thurston

December 28, 2021



Our special guest, Ron Thurston, brings over 25 years of experience in brick-and-mortar retail to enlighten us on the evolution of physical retail and the changing retail culture. How has the retail culture evolved with the rise of eCommerce? Is physical retail dead? If not, how does it have to change to keep up with customer trends and preferences?


  • We ask these questions and more of our special guest, Ron Thurston, Vice President of Stores at Intermix and author of Retail Pride. Ron’s book is unique in the retail industry, which is lacking in reading and educational material for store associates and store managers looking to learn how to further their careers and optimize the retail customer experience.
  • Ron joins us to discuss what makes for a truly customer-centric retailing experience, why physical retail isn’t dead in the age of digital, and why we should merge the online and offline shopping realms to achieve truly unified retail commerce and experiential retail.
  • With over 25 years of industry experience, Ron can say with confidence that personal relationships and store associates have an increasingly important role to play in omnichannel retail, and that retail leaders must embrace omnichannel as they look to 2021 and beyond.

Conversation Rundown

[ 8:52-10:39 ] Why people-first culture in retail is more important today than ever
No one says it better than Ron. If you think about physical retail purely in terms of the in-store sales that occur on any given day, you're missing something big. If you focus only on performance and revenue, you're discounting the work that goes into creating a brand through your storefronts. It's not enough to just say you're people-first. How are you showing it?

[ 10:47-11:26 ] Stores play a major role in increasing online sales
Your stores increase online revenue. That's a fact, not an opinion. Study after study has shown that building a new store in an area directly correlates to spikes in online orders in that same area. This proves that thinking and compensating based on the shopping channel no longer works. People move back and forth between online and offline, and they influence each other every day.

[ 13:05-15:42 ] Why physical retail is not dead
The retail apocalypse is still a buzzword in the industry, but I've been saying for years that physical retail is not dead. In fact, it's never been more important. Ron explains it perfectly: yes, e-Commerce is on the rise. Yes, it's rising faster than brick-and-mortar. But brick-and-mortar still dominates the retail industry. That's what's missing from the conversation. Those percentages you see in every retail apocalypse article don't accurately describe the reality of the industry.

[ 19:06-20:06 ] Future of stores associates
Importance of clienteling tools for store associates. In order to achieve truly #unifiedcommerce, you need to integrate your technology within your shopping experience. Your store associates can't operate in a completely different environment than your eComm department. The customer can feel that disjointed. Train your store associates on the importance of digital selling.

[ 21:25-22:43 ] Lack of tech creates disengagement between customers & store associates
Retailers don't do enough for their store associates. The customers walking into the store with a mobile phone in their hand are often better-armed than the associate. They can hop on the website, check availability in-store themselves, and read the product description. If they have this information at their fingertips, what added value can associates provide? Retailers must invest in clienteling tools that allow associates to provide an immersive and exciting shopping experience.

[ 23:06-23:53 ] How stores play the role of brand marketing
Any kind of popup—in this case, an email request form on the homepage—is an obstruction in the visitor's buying journey. Let visitors browse and explore products before even considering triggering a popup. If anything, a popup should be used to incentive visitors to stay who would have otherwise left.

Meet the Experts

Our special guest, Ron Thurston, brings over 25 years of experience in brick-and-mortar retail to enlighten us on the evolution of physical retail and the changing retail culture.

Retail Tips & Tweetables

The best part of the fashion industry is Brick and Mortar.

There are two most important roles in retail - A great sales manager & a great sales team.

Create a culture that is people first, service-centric and people-centric.

Every customer touchpoints becomes omnichannel and that’s the future.

Brand’s cultures and values should not be dictated by sales performance.

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