You may be tired of the debate over brick-and-mortar vs. online retail—and rightfully so. As new technologies continue to change the way people shop, many have anticipated the death of brick-and-mortar stores at the hands of e-commerce. But as our shopping habits change over time, wireless retail remains somewhat of an outlier: the in-store experience has stayed crucial to the industry, as customer education is essential to completing a sale. At the same time, the potential for selling plans and products online has changed retailers' tactics and marketing efforts. It's no wonder why so many wireless retailers are wondering which sales channels to focus their efforts on.
Has your local mall been boarded up yet? Not a store left open, tumbleweeds blowing across the empty, cracked parking lot? Isn’t Amazon forcing all the malls to close down?
Oh... you were just there yesterday and struggled to find a parking spot? We had a feeling that might be the case. See, despite all the talk, the great retail apocalypse just isn’t the doomsday some analysts expected.
Think about the different steps you take before making a purchase. Maybe you browse on a smartphone, then look at product specs from your PC, then finally make it into the store to purchase. Or perhaps you first see an item on social media, and click-through to a product page to find out more before buying an item online. There are endless combinations of channels a consumer might use on their buyer journey—making it increasingly harder for retailers to come up with “one-size-fits-all” marketing techniques.
Ten years ago, almost to the day, there was a major disruption in the wireless world; the iconic iPhone was introduced to the masses. Affected companies had to adapt, change, and move quickly to ride the waves from the impact of this new product/idea. We saw success and failure in response.
I was out indulging in some retail therapy and came across a very common disconnect consumers are facing today – a mismatch between expectations and experience.
I had an interesting discussion with my co-workers today about how we shop at big-box department stores like Target and Wal-Mart, versus how we shop online on Amazon.
Guardian reported today that Amzaon has just opened a bookstore in Seattle's University Village stocked with 6,000 books at the same price as Amazon sells them online.
TechCrunch reported today that Singpost, Singapore's postal service recently unveiled a concept mall (artist rendering above) that allows online retailers to sell their products in a physical space.
Anil Kaul, CEO of Absolutedata, warned retailers of a few "traps" related to social media buy buttons today on PaymentsSource.com.
It really comes down to the types of goods that would determine the success of retailers who mix online and in-store.
It’s interesting to note what types of retailers would fall somewhere in the middle and would benefit from a strong blend of in-store and online strategies. It really comes down to the types of goods that would determine the success of retailers who mix online and in-store. My thoughts on the kinds of goods that would be great for the mix are:
- Goods that are not commodities. If there are physical differentiators for a product set, then it becomes more important to have a physical store channel for consumers to validate a choice that they might make online.
- Goods that are actually physical. Music is essentially a virtual ‘product’. The distribution lends itself to a strictly electronic form. Books are another example of this class of virtual product.
- Fashion is a prime industry for an online and in-store mix. The goods are differentiated physically in terms of cut, material, and colors.
- Technical physical products are another category that benefit from an online and in-store presence - gear that requires good maneuverability or feels good in the hand.
Perhaps another way to think about it is - what kinds of products carry a higher risk of disappointing the customer if they only ever had exposure to it online?
Physical stores can offer consumers experiences that are difficult to replicate online.
Here are my top 3 tips for how retailers can remain competitive within the growing trends of E-commerce:
The future of retail is not deciding between physical or online but finding a way to bring the best of both experiences together.
Re/code reported last week (Sept. 4) Uber is planning a partnership announcement with "big retailers and fashion brands that could number in the dozens," which would use Uber as an express delivery option for e-commerce customers.
Foot Locker has implemented endless aisle and drop ship concepts to pull together their omnichannel efforts. The article covered a lot of interesting trends that we’ve seen popping up all over the retail landscape.
A new report from BI Intelligence, announced today, "explores the top five in-store technologies that represent the future of retail."