Online Retailers Now Opening Stores

wholesale merchandise mallsHas the retailing world gone insane? Over the last several years online sellers have made significant dents in brick and mortar stores in every market and in every city. Many retailers had to jump into online selling whether they wanted to or not to keep a presence to the consumers. This addition has been costly and for many retailers has not been all that popular, as many online shoppers are scouring for the cheapest price.
Fast forward to today when new retailing reports are showing that many online stores that had been exclusively on line are venturing into brick and mortar situations. Has everyone lost their minds? Is this backwards day?

 

An article that was published in USA today talked about an online fashion retailer in San Francisco that has sold online only for a decade and then decided that it would be a great idea to open a physical store so he could interact with the customers. Lo and behold he discovered that he makes larger sales and were able to interact better with the customers. OMG – something us physical retailers have known about forever!

 

So now the hipster millennial trend is the NEW thing…opening physical locations! They even have a name for it – it is called omni-channel marketing. We used to just call it RETAILING!

 

The newfound genius’ have discovered that there are great benefits by having a physical location and those selling fashion feel they can no longer ignore the client who wants to touch and feel the merchandise. Wow. something we have all been doing for eons until many were put out of business because of these same genius’ saying the internet is the ONLY way to sell. So, they rise through the carnage THEY made of the brick and mortar stores only to bring it back again. But this time they think they have invented a NEW way to sell!

 

My favorite addition to this story is that after years of the decimation of book stores and the burying of Walden Books, Borders and the dwindling down of Barnes and Noble, an announcement was just made that Amazon will be opening physical book stores next year!  I give up!! Is it just me?  Share your thoughts…

 

 

 

Showrooming – the saga continues

showroomingMany of our readers know the term “showrooming” but in case you are not familiar I will explain. Showrooming refers to shoppers who go to a store to see and feel the merchandise and then go online to buy it somewhere else, cheaper.

 

This has been a real problem for many retailers, especially the electronics giant Best Buy whose sales were certainly effected by this act. Of course it is completely within the law to window shop and compare and as retailers we realize that we cannot control the shoppers. I think it’s tacky when the shopper starts scanning product bar codes to use an APP on their phone to locate the product closeby at another store at a lower price.

 

Everything can’t always be cheaper! That’s just a fact of life. It costs money to run a store and shoppers will soon lose their window shopping when more and more stores close up because of no shopper loyalty or willingness to pay a dollar more to support your local businesses.

 

Many retailers have tried to fight the showrooming by switching to their own bar codes but found that APP’s also worked with product names and model numbers. So much for that. Then retailers like Best Buy became more proactive with their shoppers – using their sales force to engage shoppers on the sales floor. Not so easy to take snapshots of bar codes with a sales associate standing next to you. Also, the sales associates were able to discuss the product and pricing as well, and in many cases offering a price guarantee.

 

The price guarantee and trolling the sales floor worked for the electronics giant – BUT, and this is a big  but….the store’s margins diminished and they turned in a not so rosy profit picture after the holiday season.

 

So, in essence you can tackle the showrooming by being proactive on the sales floor and offering price matches but it will effect your bottom line. How long can you go seems to be the new wave of retailing. Thank you internet!

 

Ideas? Opinions? Share with us.

 

 

 

VIRTUAL SPENDING… WHAT IS THIS WORLD COMING TO?

The economy is starting to chug along again, although lately the stock market has had such big ups and downs. Many fellow retailers have been having a hard time selling merchandise at their stores and are looking forward to a better year mid-year 2010. When I say retailers I mean real stores with real merchandise that buyers can touch and feel.

 

WHY do I expound on “real” merchandise you ask? Well, let me share this with you and maybe you’ll be as crazed as I was after I heard this…

 

Social games have become a new trend on the internet. This new industry is sucking in staggering amounts of money. In one recent 30-day span, Playfish, a creator of social games sold for $400 million. Playdom, another game company raised $43 million in financing, while another, Zynga raised $180 million. Many are equating this trend to something larger than the dot com trend back in the 90’s.

 

Companies like Playfish can develop a game for under $100,000 and complete it in just a few weeks. These virtual games don’t even have to fight for shelf space. What makes me insane is where the bulk of the social-gaming revenue comes from: the sale of virtual goods. The virtual goods are digital stuff that doesn’t actually exist.

 

While the games are free, users have countless opportunities to buy stuff: Playfish says it sells 60 million items a day, from $14 engagement rings to bacon sandwiches that cost a few cents. The goodies make it easier to advance in the game.

 

Imagine that…people are shopping and they are spending… ON MAKE-BELIEVE MERCHANDISE! How sad is that? Well, sad to the tune of $75 million in sales for 2009 that could double this year! For fake bacon sandwiches and engagement rings for a game!!

 

Is it just me? Have I gone insane? How tempting would it be for us retailers to post signs in our stores offering “virtual” jewelry — just $29.95 for a pretend ring! And here we have these venture capitalists chasing these gaming companies to throw money into them. Then you have the players willing to spend real dollars for birthday parties for a digital pussycat! Can you say $75 million? I think we’re in the wrong business!

 

Have you heard of this? Are you a gamer? A retailer? Blog with me and let me know what you think.