The Christmas shopping season is upon us as the traditional Black Friday after Thanksgiving shopping day seems to move sooner and sooner and might soon be known as Black Monday.
Every retailer has been hedging its bets through on-line portals, as more and more shopping dollars seem to be heading to Internet sales. But I believe the sea change is more dramatic than that. Not only is online shopping easier, often times cheaper and more convenient than traditional shopping, it is getting to be more fun too. But more on that in a minute.
The idea that door-buster sales are the main drivers of holiday sales is a bit myopic. Retailers will find that these bounces in traffic will be very short lived. I predict they will find the Christmas shopping season disappointing again this year. Consumer spending will be up but the bricks and mortar retailers will grab a much smaller share. The reason? Fun.
Many retailers need to up their in-store game.
Online shopping has become a lot more fun than it used to be. The emotional driver of experience of discovery is even more powerful than the more traditional shopping experience. The web retailers have found a way to broaden our shopping discovery through smart technology. They’ll suggest other products that we might be interested in. They will ply their knowledge base to products we have shown to have a casual interest in the past. They use multiple images, interactive video and a myriad of choices to whet our shopping disease state.
Even a casual shopper can find hours of exciting discovery on iPads and tablets. It has become more than a virtual experience. It has become a bonafide experience. Rich in detail, options and a customizable environment. Even the payoff of immediacy has been accounted for in that often delivery is next day.
What does this mean for old school stores? It says that in order to compete they need to have a richness of experience. They need to compete in the totality of the shopping experience like never before. Jammed shelves and compact Walmart-like aisles just won’t cut it. They need to grab a larger portion of online browsing at their own portals and improve the more traditional shopping experience to make it more of an event. Right down to encouraging in-store shoppers to use their tablets and smart phones in the store to see greater selections and even check out without standing in lines.
All bets are off. It’s all about change and trying to shoehorn the customer into your old paradigm will simply backfire.