Technology seems to have a common purpose – to make our lives easier. If we were living a century ago, the very idea that we could conveniently order merchandise from a computer in the comfort of our home would have seemed farfetched. Now it’s a way of life.
Who knows what the future will bring for small to mid-sized retail businesses but the online buying trend is definitely affecting big-box chains. More physical locations are closing down. It’s hard to tell if that’s a wise strategy or not. After all, people still like to “go shopping.”
Some major chains are trying another strategy – using e-commerce to drive traffic (shoppers) to do their shopping either online or in-store.
The Fortune article, “How E-commerce Is Making Stores Relevant Again,” described the strategy as “counterintuitive” to putting off the inevitable – the closing down of more physical stores. Still, why not try?
“If traditional retailers have any hope of countering Amazon’s dominance, it’s by using their brick-and-mortar stores as local arms of their online businesses.”
Even though it’s looking like in-store shopping in major retail stores is declining by six percent a year, retailers, like Best Buy, “believe that more technology will lift store sales.”
One way the chain is doing this is to use technology to track down items as a customer service to shoppers who come in for a specific thing, say, a TV. “Best Buy has armed workers with handheld devices that can show customers whether nearby stores have a particular TV that is otherwise out of stock.”
That’s using the technology of inventory management in a very good way.
This is the “Internet of Things” era and retailers must make technology work in their favor to survive the future, which is now.