The face of retail is changing
The face of retail is changing and it’s about time that we all started accepting this change.
Yes, in the past a company may have just needed to stock their shelves and open their doors in order to have customers flock inside and make purchases. Now, however, this simply is no longer the case. Why is this happening? Well, the word internet serves as a substantial explanation. However, deeper explanations can be found. Technology is rapidly advancing, changing the game and of course this is changing the way that we shop.
Modern-day retailers have to make sure that everything that they sell inside their brick-and-mortar stores are also available for purchase both online and inside mobile apps. Not only this, but they have to make sure that they are also running effective eCommerce options alongside, or in many cases instead of, the marketing of physical stores. This means that stores have to have options available to deliver the goods that we buy directly to our front doors and also be prepared to manage negative feedback when things go wrong on social media.
This is because, as customers, we are getting more and more demanding while our tolerance for failure is getting to the point where it’s virtually non-existent. We’ve seen the birth of customers who expect a seamless shopping experience whether we decide to buy on or offline. As customers now want the ability to do shopping online pretty much anywhere, for example while we’re on the train home, tapping on our smartphones or tablets. Likewise we also want to be able to do our shopping during our lunch breaks at work using our computers.
This explosion in different technologies is transforming the our shopping behaviour as a whole as well. We no longer find a product inside a shop and then buy it, instead we’re happy to spend more time online tapping away on our keyboards searching for the lowest possible price for the same product. We’ll spend more time online reading product and company reviews on websites such as Trustpilot ad and of course, we’ll demand that we have free options to return products if they’re not up to our expectations. If we do experience a problem, the first place we tend to voice our anger is social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
This also means that retailers now need to think about ways in which they can satisfy our demanding nature and please us unforgiving shoppers. This has led to an increase in companies who are struggling to ensure that they continually deliver a high level of customer service with customers, no matter how the customers try to interact with the company.
One example of the effects that this is having is the changes that are currently happening over in the United States. Just take a look at the sales figures across February and March and you’ll see that they’ve suffered the biggest slump for more than two years according to data that has recently been released by the US Government.
In this report, the US Census Bureau said that, overall, sales had declined staggeringly, by more than to two-tenths of a percent in March alone. Although this downturn had been expected, the sales figures were worse than predicted and this is believed to be a huge reflection of the changing landscape that’s currently happening within the States.
Business Insider recently commented that the changes reflect a retail apocalypse and it has led to a slew of bankruptcies and store closures up and down the country. In total, some 3,500 stores are expected to shut their doors for good in the next few years and these stores include some of the US’s major retail outlets including Macy’s, Sears and Kmart.
The changes are believed to be a result of the changing technology and the demographic shifts that are changing the way we do our shopping. At the heart of this change is millennials, those people who reached adulthood at the turn of the century, who are now more comfortable with using technology than they are in entering physical outlets.
Jack Kleinhenz, NRF Chief Economist said: “They’re more comfortable with new technology. They’re not buying stuff like we (Baby Boomers) did when we were in their age group. They’re on a different pathway in terms of their careers and their spending. And that’s changing how retailers are responding.”
This biggest change to affect retail shopping in the past ten years is the rise of eCommerce and, more recently, a rapid rise in the popularity of mCommerce (purchasing goods on your mobile phone). These two combined make it easier for us consumers to buy what we want when we have the urge to buy it. We no longer have to wait until the weekend where we have free time to head down to the nearest shopping centre, instead we simply pull out our smartphone, shop around for the best price and then buy online.
This is also combined with faster and cheaper delivery rates whereby we can buy something online and receive it the next working day for the same price as fuel.
These changes have led to many people believing that the coming years will see more brick-and-mortar stores clothing down across the United States. Not only that, but this has led to fears that we could also see the same happening soon in Europe. Huge, American-based stores such as Amazon are making it easier for us in Europe to buy anything online and receive our goods with minimal delay. This means that we no longer need to visit high street stores and therefore we’re beginning to see more physical stores closing and eCommerce and buying online becoming more and more popular.