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Dec 21, 2018 | 8 minute read

eBook: Disrupting Retail Stores

written by Meaghan Donlon


Who we are

Elastic Path provides the leading commerce innovation engine to help free brand centric companies to pursue the future of retail. Our headless commerce APIs allow retailers to quickly and easily create new experiences for your consumers while maintaining your existing commerce and corporate technologies.

"Retail is alive and well—but anyone playing in the physical retail space can’t sit back and wait for shoppers to roll in."

Steve Dennis - Top 20 Retail Influencer & Expert

Chapter one


What do retail customers expect?

Consumers expect frictionless, experiential, easy and enjoyable shopping experiences. Winners in this space are the brands and retailers who are evolving to meet these new customer expectations. Losers in this space are those who are more complacent and who are ignoring trends. Instead, they’re maintaining the status quo and are not able to experiment with some of the trends consumers are most excited about.


Non-traditional retail

Selling in today’s market requires elevating the stores with technology to make shopping more frictionless or to enhance the buying experience in some way.


Event retail

Pop-up shops, temporary store fronts are quite popular and successful. This is a great way to dabble in retail without investing in a full-fledge storefront. Many brands use event retail to highlight a seasonal collection or product line, but it’s not just for the holidays. One example of a recent pop-up retail series in Boston’s Seaport District was called the She-Village. It featured all female-founded businesses and was very successful.



Marketplaces constitute to yet another non-traditional retail trend. Retailers like Macy’s and Nordstrom create brand pop-up shops within their stores. For the retailers, it’s a great way to get more foot traffic. They get potential exposure to new categories, and it’s a great way to leverage the real estate they already have, along with the systems and operations in the store, to innovate and aid in product discovery in a fun way.



Showcases are a popular choice for digitally-native brands who want a way for customers to try before they buy without the need to maintain inventory. This is a particularly useful choice for items which will be shipped directly to the consumer, such as furniture.



In store mobile technology

The bring-your-own-device trend is definitely on the rise this year, and is absolutely continuing into the holiday season. Over 80% of shoppers are on their phone in the store, so as a store, as a brand, it’s wise to leverage this--either to make checkout more frictionless or enhance the buyer experience in some way.


Not just for brick and mortar brands

Increasingly, direct-to-consumer brands are getting in on the action in a variety of retail formats, from pop-up stores to more permanent storefronts. But as they do, they’re redefining what retail is and they’re helping to usher in what the next generation of retail will look like.

Away Luggage has added elements of travel and planning a trip into their store. It’s really fun and experiential.

One of Elastic Path's customers has recently opened up a showcase for their furniture. They do many fun events, including an Instagram movie night which was fun and engaging, and made buying super easy for the customer.

Glossier on Canal Street is an Instagramer’s dream. They’ve made their store into a destination, something exciting consumers want to go see. They have all these funky rooms. There’s a room with oversized mascara tubes with which you can take pictures, and other similar  vanity rooms. It’s almost like a little museum or walk-through arts installation.

The more foot traffic you have, the more revenue gains. These experiences also enhance the brand and message, and people leave with a really positive viewpoint.

A Lilly Pulitzer store recently served cocktails to their customers. It doesn’t have to be elaborate to start, but retailers can’t afford to be complacent with traditional shopping and the normal SKU on the shelf, lines at the register, POS kind of process anymore.


Wrap up

Collectively, I think all of these companies and so many more are redefining what retail looks like. Increasingly, we’re seeing more and more of these direct-to-consumer brands making a play in the physical retail space—and they’re wise to do so. It pays off.


Chapter two:


Maintaining cohesiveness between online and offline retail channels

Obviously, eCommerce growth is undeniable. Companies must have a web presence. And yet the majority of purchases today, around 90%, still happen offline. Consumers are increasingly expecting more cohesiveness and harmony between their online and offline channels.


Harmonizing digital and physical

There’s a popular and marked rise in customers looking to experiment with things like buying online and picking up in the store, especially during the holiday season.

More than a third of shoppers indicate they’d like to try Scan and Go for faster checkout. The consumer appetite for more frictionless in-store shopping experience is growing exponentially. Shoppers still want to follow the physical route, but they want to avoid the long lines.

Digital, and especially mobile, is increasingly becoming a gateway to in-store sales. Deloitte reported that 60% of in-store sales involved a digital device, and that number is expected to continue to grow. Deloitte estimates that web-influenced physical store sales are about five times that of online sales, so there’s a definite linkage between them.

What all of these numbers suggest is that brick-and-mortar stores are still a valuable channel, and will be for the foreseeable future. However, the value in digitizing the store is without question.


Obstacles to change

Though the numbers clearly show the value in change, many retail companies aren’t making the necessary modifications to take advantage of the new digital landscape.

Traditional POS systems have not been able to make the innovation leap with brands and retailers. They don’t scale well for pop-up shops or event selling. It’s cumbersome and difficult to take a traditional POS system and insert it into some of those unique use cases.

Teams get tripped up around the technology and attribution, and trying to push the data around the appropriate downstream systems. That’s definitely a challenge with many of the current technologies. There’s a learning curve which may include operational or sales training, and that sometimes scares brands and retailers away.

Pop-up shows, trunk shows and event-based selling are all exciting, but if it’s a temporary shop and not intended to be around for long, it may appear that the six-month effort to extend a piece of technology to help run that show or event is not worth the effort. Retailers are looking for lightweight solutions which haven’t been available until recently.



Chapter three


The solution

If you are a brand or retailer who is wanting to try a pop-up shop, a trunk show or some other in-store innovation, but these projects have eluded you up until now because the ability to prioritize or the perceived effort appears too great, Elastic Path has a compelling solution.


Elastic Path's mobile self-checkout application

The mobile self-checkout application is a Progressive Web Application (PWA), which means it’s present on a browser with no download required. This application allows consumers to easily check themselves out in the store right on their cellphones. They simply scan, pay either with their digital wallet or a credit card and they’re finished. It’s super easy to use with no store associate training required. It’s an intuitive, consumer-friendly app built on top of our commerce APIs, meaning it can easily plug into any existing architecture to extend anywhere.

With a few small tweaks, this app can extend into many of the interesting case studies mentioned earlier.


Customers like Stance are using it for self-checkout. A current footwear customer is using it in a pop-up store for the holidays. Another customer is launching the app in a showcase store for employees to check customers out, rather than them having to go up to a register or through the traditional POS process.

There are many cases into which this kind of application can easily fit. Customers who leverage this technology are typically going from conception to launch in a store, pop-up shop or other use in less than eight weeks, which makes it a powerful and lightweight technology.


Powered by Elastic Path APIs

Retailers can leverage the APIs to tie back into an existing system for attribution, processing, revenue recognition and downstream processes. Retailers can extend or enhance their experiences with these raw building blocks, the microservices and APIs working behind the scenes.

Elastic Path supports a number of payment getaways. There are out-of-the-box connections for Stripe’s Strip Connect, Braintree and First Data’s CardConnect. Elastic Path also offers a manual payment gateway option which essentially allows the retailer to plug into the payment gateway of their choice, which is especially useful for those companies with unique payment requirements, including blockchain. Elastic Path is adding new payment gateways all the time.

Online-only stores can also use the mobile self-checkout. It’s a great alternative to a POS system, either as a consumer self-checkout option or as a store associate checkout option, or both. Products can then be pulled down from your existing eCommerce platform or catalog.



Physical retail isn’t dead, but it absolutely cannot be boring. Retailers have to bring something new to the table and be willing to experiment to get customers’ attention to draw them into the store. Retail winners are those who are willing to experiment. They’re willing to try out these new formats and different technologies to make buying more frictionless and enjoyable for their customers.

Physical and digital need to complement each other. These channels need to work together. Many brick-and-mortar buyers are starting online, or they’re online in the store, or both, so these channels need to be harmonious.

To avoid pitfalls, you need something lightweight that can help you react and turn on new experiences quickly with the ability to transact anywhere.


Learn more about Elastic Path

If you want to learn more about Elastic Path and their mobile self-checkout and digital wallet solutions, feel free to contact them at


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