Will the Web Kill Retail?


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It is a question that is often asked during conferences and client meetings.

“Why should I invest in opening a store or a chain and incur all aligned expenses when I can play safe on an online platform and enjoy the same (if not better!) ROI, with much simpler management?”

Reasonable doubt, but an ill-posed question, in our view. To begin with, it depends on the type of business that one conducts. However, the point is not so much as “what is in fashion today”, but rather, what will work in the long run, under changing conditions.

If the rules of the game were already set and that simple, we would not be asking why Amazon, despite its undeniable virtual success, decided to open physical stores around the world.

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We would like to think that this decision has to do only with the poetic vision of enabling the customer to smell the paper books and fall in love in a way, so to speak ‘traditionally’. In reality, however, we know that the strategies are more complex and far from poetic.

Meanwhile, the use of big data from online activities would allow, for example, selling only those books that have achieved some success, thus reducing the risk of readers stumbling upon the ‘unsold’ works only in independent bookstores. Secondly, customers could use these outlets for returns, which particularly streamlines the complicated and costly procedure of door-to-door pick up and drop service.

These are just a few cases in point.

The fragmentation of purchase in “micro time” has created a new category of consumers: the unpredictable. Their autonomy and, in some respects, unresponsiveness to stimuli invasive classic style of advertising, makes it a full-bodied catchment basin, but elusive and difficult to analyze.

“The micro moments happen all the time, throughout the decision path, and are becoming the new battleground for brands – at stake are the hearts, minds and dollars of customers.”(Google)

We only know one thing: you have to be where they are, at the exact moment in which there are; you have to be everywhere!

Today they may have to buy online. But tomorrow morning they might just want to take a ride to their favorite store to check out the bestsellers of the month on display at the shop window! In a multi-channel selling environment, your business should be ready to come to terms with the buying behavior of this group of unpredictable consumers and cater to them.

In the real sense, it is not just about bypassing the problems of distrust associated with online shopping or reaching out to potential customer segments that lie beyond the mobile and PC; it is indeed about inculcating and adopting a futuristic vision that cuts across all market segments.

There are illuminating examples such futuristic brands that are strategically focusing on the integration between the real and virtual via applications, experiential marketing, interactive panels and 3D Points of Purchase. Through such integration, they give their customers a much better chance of living the retail actively, become attached to the brand, sponsor and endorse the value within their network and offer practical ideas to improve products and services.

 

 

 

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