“The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated”.
That was Mark Twain’s response to the rumor that was a gravely ill and died. The rumor that retail is dying gains momentum every year as we approach Black Friday and Cyber Monday. There is no question that retailers are being confronted with the gaining popularity of on-line sales. Cyber Monday year over year sales have been increasing by double digits for the past five years. In my opinion the demise of retail is being “greatly exaggerated”, however the complacent retail is under peril. Simply having an e-commerce site is no longer sufficient to meet on-line competition. Your website needs to mobile enabled and offer the customer the option to pick up in store or have the order shipped. We can wax poetically about the days when the independent retailers were the backbone of a community. The days when customer service, fair prices and good product were the essential factors for success. These factors still count but the millennial shopper wants to be able to browse your inventory on their mobile device and decided how they want to buy, in store or online. 92.9% of shoppers will buy gifts on line this year, but 95% will also buys gifts in stores. Brick and mortar stores still have some advantages, no freight, easier return process and one stop shopping.
Even though the demise of retail is being exaggerated it is under tremendous pressure. The strong, the agile and the adaptable will survive which defines a free enterprise competitive marketplace.
This is from an Associated Press article by Joyce M. Rosenberg which makes the point that being a smaller retailer allows you to be faster to react and more agile.
Small retailers use high-tech innovations to build relationships with customers; they often can’t compete with big chains on prices, so they aim at better, individualized service. Some of the technology is designed for smaller companies, while some retailers find ways to turn a widely-used computer program or app to their advantage. They’re also able to implement technology faster than many giant retailers because they’re not operating hundreds or thousands of stores.