Archive for November 21st, 2012

Retail is not going away… Just transforming

VHS was going to be the cinema killer in late 70s. And yet 30 ‘DVR, Blue ray and big screen TV’ years later Cinema is more popular than ever and the box office keeps growing, helped by multiplexes, 3D movies and well… ‘ Buttered popcorn’.

When radio was considered just about dead outside the car, Pandora, Sirius and Spotify brought it back with a bang. More social, more personal and available from more sources.

Retail industry is today is facing a big threat from Amazons and Ebays of the world.  Based on a recent survey from Accenture,  $1 in every $6 will be spent online this holiday season.

Mobile is disrupting the traditional retail sales funnel in a big way. What has been referred to by some as retailers’ worst nightmare, smartphones are bringing the power of the Internet right into brick-and-mortar stores, arming consumers with the pricing power that was once reserved for the confines of their home or work online shopping experience. *

When a strong competition emerges from a new medium, one of the two outcomes can happen. Incumbent can either come out stronger than ever as examples above or die the ‘Blockbuster’ death. Retail industry today has to rise to the challenge provided by its online competitors.

Here are some changes that are happening in the retail as we speak

  • Focus on Personalization –Just as their online competitors, retailers are connecting with their users more and more for personalized offers and deals. Safeway’s just for u is a great example. (Macy’s keeps sending me the deals on petite products. Any guesses why?)
  • Pre shopping experience – Many online service providers are emerging to facilitate the process of discovery in early stages of purchase funnel such as online catalogues and circulars, comparison shopping and purchasing wish lists. (
  • In Store Experience – Lot is happening on improving the in Store buying experience with mobile POS solutions, acceptance of digital payments/coupons and in store only promotions
  • More and more stores are supporting ‘Bricks and clicks’ – order online to pick up from the store

And lets not forget the role the friendly salesman…’The buttered popcorn’ of retail. I recently had two great experiences at two different stores.  While buying shoes at Macy’s and a TV at Sears. It reminded me, the role of an intelligent, friendly human can play in your buying decision and make purchasing from a chore to an amazing experience. Something, that is close to impossible for online stores to match.

So ‘brick and mortars’ will survive. The fancy malls will remain. Shoppers will continue going to the malls for Black Friday midnight shopping parties – probably more than ever.

* from Comscore – Mobile future in focus



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