Tech Talk: Experience the Joy of In-Store Shopping
I hear two main culprits from senior retail executives when it comes to their companies’ troubles: getting the merchandising right (i.e., matching supply and demand), and the burgeoning growth of e-commerce. Stores are often left with either too much or not enough inventory — suffering in either circumstance.
While it seems as if it’s raining Amazon Prime boxes, in fact, e-commerce amounts to less than 10 percent of all retail sales. Of that 10 percent, about half is captured by traditional brick-and-mortar retailers — a shift in where orders are being transacted — while the other half is going to Amazon.com. So that lost share of 5 percent (50 percent of 10 percent) is explainable. However, how does one explain the rapid revenue and concomitant stock declines of the major department stores beyond that 5 percent?
To put it bluntly, stores have lost their magic because the user experience hasn’t changed in nearly 100 years. Compared to the experience at a Marshall Field’s or Selfridges back in the early 1900s, today’s shopping experience is nearly identical: lure the customer in with advertisements and window displays; offer a maze-like environment that requires endless sorting through racks or piles of garments to find what you’re looking for; provide little or no assistance with the try-on process; make the customer wait in line to buy an item (treating them like a vendor); and then usher them out of the store. Sound familiar?