Despite the rise of ecommerce and online shopping, stores are here to stay, says Amy Bastow, managing director of StorIQ

We believe stores are the future of retail.

Yes, retail is over spaced, outdated rent and rates models are driving a heavy cost burden into the P&L and retail spending has shifted online, flattening store like for likes.

But even 20 years ago, when I started my career in what was then called multichannel retail, it was clear that great stores provided essential support for online sales, just as a joined-up digital brand experience drives footfall to stores.

Online shopping is efficient and it’s a powerful channel to connect niche brands with customers all over the world. But it can be transactional, solitary and isolating – and sometimes scrolling through endless product listing pages is just dull.

Great shops lift our hearts; it’s not about a transaction, it’s about an outing with a friend, finding the perfect gift for a daughter’s birthday (I’d never have searched online for dinosaur earrings – who would? – but when I saw them in Oliver Bonas I knew they’d be perfect). Back in April, as non-essential retail reopened in the UK, 15 minutes in Anthropologie felt like a holiday.

“Store teams don’t need gimmicks, they need clear information, quick access to support teams and tools that save time”

There’s something truly special about an afternoon browsing the stores at Coal Drops Yard, Shoreditch’s Redchurch Street, Boxpark or Bicester Village. Brands like Flannels, Lacoste, Nespresso, Sweaty Betty, Cos, Dobbies, Decathlon are delivering new, exciting experiences you can’t capture online – not to mention the brand impact you can create in-store if the details are just right.

In 2013, I got my first job that included responsibility for stores. Coming from ecommerce, I was used to real-time visibility of everything and I couldn’t understand how anyone could run a store estate without it.

I worked with Peter Wake, an experienced software entrepreneur looking for a new project, who developed a retail ops platform to bring some of the principles of online retail management – clarity, consistency and attention to detail – to physical retail. With mobile devices and WiFi becoming more common in stores, the time was right for StorIQ. It transformed the way we worked. Three years later, I joined StorIQ.

Store teams don’t need gimmicks, they need clear information, quick access to support teams and tools that save time and build confidence.

It has never been more important for retail teams to get it right first time and to do more with less. After a period when retailers have invested anywhere but store tech, the digital transformation of retail ops is gathering pace. The retailers empowering and supporting their retail teams with technology will come back stronger than ever.

Amy Bastow is managing director of StorIQ 

Amy Bastow

Amy Bastow joined StorIQ to lead the next stage of the company’s growth. She is an expert in retail operations and has worked in leadership roles for multichannel retailers including Crew Clothing and John Lewis.

She has a great track record of building teams to deliver growth, and with strong tech, product and account management teams in place, she anticipates exciting times ahead.