Don’t Blame the Retail Apocalypse on E-Commerce

While there have been countless articles about the “retail apocalypse” in recent months, according to a new feature from Entrepreneur, to frame the industry’s demise as a battle between brick-and-mortar and e-commerce is to miss the point.

While it’s true that decades of urbanization have led to a proliferation of big box stores that strive to be “something for everyone,” but wind up having “nothing for anyone,” there are other types of big box stores, specifically ones in the off-price category, that are still thriving, despite their lack of online presence, by offering exclusive product that’s cheaper, faster, and easier.

What’s more, chiding traditional retailers for not focusing as much on their online sales fails to take into account that, by doing so, they could ultimately be taking business away from themselves. As Marshal Cohen, chief industry retail analyst of the NPD Group, and a source for the article explains, “Macy’s online business represents 15 percent of their total sales, and yet they’re now closing 13 percent of their stores. That number’s too close to be coincidental.”

Ultimately, experiences are what today’s customer desires, more than material possessions. Research shows that simply improving customer service would be enough to lure many customers back. And instead of investing in in-store beacons, self-serve kiosks, and smart mirrors that enable virtual try-ons, retailers should try to get to know their customer on a personal level, and let that relationship dictate their stock, as opposed to using statistics to try and trick their customer into buying from the inventory they already have.

You can read more about it at Entrepreneur.

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