The commerce reality is changing dramatically fast. With the developments and new trends that have arisen over the last year it's especially visible. As in each technology-dependent area the novelties come as fast as a lightening. Some of them disappear as fast as they came, but a part adapts to the market and makes milestone changes. Here are some of the major milestones we can see if it comes to modern retail.
From a nice add-on to your business online commerce has just become an inevitable must for each brick-and-mortar retailer. In the Forbes article Five Trends Driving Traditional Retail Towards Extinction we can read that Macy's online sales grew 40% in 2011 while their in-store sales only 5.3%.
Does that mean that bricks-and-mortar should close up go totally online?
Hardly. The trick for the high street is to offer goods in an omnipresent way but with an emphasis on your e-commerce presence, since you may already get the feeling that it will become your main selling channel.
Online sales showing the highest growth rates
Analyzing this year's Black Friday Results, we can see that, although online sales grow fast they still constitute in a relatively small share of retail sales in general.
Will that change overnight?
Probably not, but it might go faster than you expect.
Thus, it's highly recommended that you think of enabling price comparisons, flash sales and some mobile solutions (as a dedicated website and maybe a payment solution for your brick-and-mortar). That will do good both for you e-commerce site, as well as in-store sales.
Why there can be an end in sight for in-store retail...
There are some obvious advantages of having only an online shop. There's no denial that avoiding the high street rental costs is a tempting possibility. Moreover it gets even more tempting if we also get rid of the middle man and sell directly to our consumers. Such profits open the door to better offers and even prices but most important to better margins, don't they?
Your lower prices combined with the known quality can only mean new clients. The loyal ones you had, know you for the brand, the new may be attracted by the prices.
A small price to pay - free delivery
Already from the chart above it gets obvious that shoppers have their demands. I mean, the technical advancements don't change that you can't feel the product and see it in real life. You still get only an image of it at first.
The question driving the next trend is probably: "Why should I pay for a pig in a poke?". That is exactly why free delivery, reviews, your reputation and a clear return policy are valued so much these days. The Forbes article goes as far as stating that free delivery and free returns may increase your later sales by 50%-350%.
A truly loyal customer through subscription
A loyal customer that would pay for your products every month, or every week without even analyzing the offers around him is a dream come true. I have actually written about this as well. Subscription commerce is becoming a huge opportunity to those who offer products that we need regularly In such case quality, convenience and price attract once and give you a core customer base that may stay intact for a long time. Quoting a great post, I've recently read on practicalecommerce.com:
You need to have a relationship so that customers will want to do business with you over the long term. Company profits comes from repeat customers.
I wonder about the future of retail. Above I've just mentioned some possible trends. What will the high street look like in the near future? Will it move more towards a showroom or experience center like the Apple Store or will entertainment fill the available space? Or is a different purpose for it awaiting.
What is your opinion on that? Can you see more chances in this changing retail landscape?